Trauma can happen in many forms and is often debilitating for people. It overwhelms the capacity to cope and the potential to embrace hope and leaves one feeling the gamut of negative emotions...frustrated, depressed, helpless, sad, angry.
At the core of trauma is one thing, fear, and fear is what needs to be treated...with love.
The memories of trauma imprint themselves into our body/mind/spirit and the body naturally registers this fear. Over time it will react quite negatively to being placed in permanent negative eco-factors as the cortisol pumps through the system keeping it on high alert. In fight or flight mode most of the time, the body has no real time to let go and relax...to release. It gets sick.
The mind won't let the body surrender, because it (the mind) does not feel safe. That's understandable when one is suffering from any kind of PTSD.
Part of the issue is that the brain is often working overtime. Whether experiencing trauma or just life itself, we have this human tendency to think a lot, analyze, regurgitate the stories to therapists story fondling our life path, talk over the incident ad nauseum with friends, belaboring our suffering when in fact many studies have show that this only works up to a certain point. Any many readers can attest to being in therapy now for years with no real relief.
The bad news about story fondling is that whatever we put out attention on in life will grow stronger.
What to do? Where to go? Most are left with a great conundrum about how to deal with their deep seated trauma and lingering depression. Therapy can be quite useful for many, but if countless hours of therapy are not working, what will? Drugs? Maybe they can alleviate some symptoms, but pharmaceuticals just mask the underlying issue of fear and who wants to take pills for the rest of one's life?
Have you ever thought of embracing a BODY modality to heal your woes?
Anecdotal evidence has been suggesting for years and now science is proving that being more in the body and less in the head space offers a tremendous amount of healing to the sufferer.
Exercise has always been touted as a major pick me up releasing all those feel good hormones into your system. Zumba is now the new aerobics and gyms are full of people trying to be physically fit across the country. It feels good to get out there and MOVE! Yoga has finally been accepted into the mainstream in western society after years of demonization and studies are showing great benefits from this gentle and soothing body modality. It feels equally awesome to sink into the body space in a gentle way.
Slowly, the world consciousness is evolving back to embracing the body as wise and all knowing, capable of healing and repairing itself like the ancients once thought possible before modernity took over!
But there is one KEY element missing from what is being offered to us on the platform of goodies that adorn the Groupon pages and which is the essence of healing anything in life.
Profound healing requires that human beings connect at a relational level with each other to create affective nets of love in safe spaces.
Understandably, this might be a scary proposition for many who suffer from trauma meted out at the hands of another human being and it's the last place we'd want to look for healing. It's too scary, right? Fear keeps us away from connecting.
But remember, what we resist the most is often times what we need in great quantities.
I present to you a unique way to embrace what ails you, love it, release it and live life again.
The system of Biodanza is a part of the complementary health services available to humanity all over the world. Created in the 60s' by Chilean Rolando Toro it is now practiced on 5 continents, in over 50 countries, by 100,000+ people weekly, with 2,500+ facilitators bearing witness to the healing beauty of humanity, love and life lived in the present moment.
Biodanza creates the space for all people to begin the process of coming back to self and letting go of fear, anxiety and depression. Biodanza will offer you a weekly space to embrace joy, vitality and all of the yummy potential of self.
So what is it and how does it work?
You join a beginning group and show up weekly. Showing up for life will unlock doors for you!
You dance. That's it. You dance.
You embrace joy and vitality, awareness and a sense of peacefulness.
You connect to life on many levels...with yourself, with others, with something greater than you.
You learn to begin to feel with no filters in place. The release process begins.
Wordless for one and half to two hours. You close down the rational and remain heart centered.
You surrender to the process you want to heal and begin to trust again in the universe and mankind.
You commit to your healing journey.
You show up the next week and do it again. No excuses.
Maybe you share in the opening share circle at the next class. Maybe not. You work your way there.
Maybe you continue your work with your therapist/life coach adding the verbal component to the Biodanza vivencial aspect. Both are valid.
You slowly start to see that your trauma will no longer define who you are. You are more than a happening in life.
You are glorious and special.
This starts to reflect itself in your relationships both at home and at work.
Life is getting better and better every week!
What is happening in the body?
...so many things too numerous for a short blog...
In a nutshell, because the human being is wired for happiness committing to a weekly Biodanza class where positive eco-factors are created by the facilitator and embraced wholeheartedly by the dancers the body and the brain are entraining to a new way of being, perceiving and thus thinking. This is done not through words, but through movement, connection and music.
Slowly, shifts are being made both internally as the positive environment works on your biology and physiology and externally. Each sessions reinforces the positive and wonderful potentials in your life.
Beware: Biodanza is not an immediate fix for your ills. It's not a daily pill to make it go away. It's not an ayahuasca trip for sudden enlightenment, nor a passive journey of lying on a table or a solo class of relaxation.
It is the "poetry of human encounter", as we say.
Your enlightenment happens in its own time, at its own pace. With love and tenderness in a safe space.
It is being present and active in healing your fear.
It is feeling what you need to feel.
It is asking and receiving what you need out of life and people.
It is establishing boundaries for yourself.
It is gradual acceptance of what is and a loving forgiveness of what was.
It is affirming and good.
It is your dance of life towards wellness and good health.
Peace and blessings
In Roman times, it was considered bad luck to get out of bed on the left side. Hence if you exited from your slumber on that wrong side, your day was fated to be a bad one.
Which side do you get out of every day, metaphorically speaking? Left or right?
Every day we humans wake up from our hopefully comfy beds and there is a new story to be unfurled. Some days are glorious and sparkly. We are emotionally up and feeling exuberant. Some are just so-so. Things may not work so well for us on those days and everything seems blah. And others, well, are downright crummy and depressing. We sleep late, veg in front of the TV and a general malaise can overcome our mind, hearts and bodies.
Sometimes we even have droughts of so-so and crummy days that seem to never be quenched despite attempts to nurture ourselves. What do you do when that happens?
Many can't imagine how to crawl out of the abyss of such an existence and resort to addictions, depression and some, tragically, suicide.
But life can be better if you take turtle steps. Little by little, with great care and compassion for yourself, you will get to a place of peace and calm which will give you vigor.
But here's the thing. You have to.....
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST!
You know what they say...put the mask on yourself first in the airplane so you have your wits about you to care for others. If you are the selfless giver in your world, stop it now! Put your mask on, breath and self care! Take that first step to loving you.
#1 Take time to do nothing
How boring, huh? Nothing. No TV. No books. No housework. Just be. Take a walk with no electronic device. Go sit in nature. Walk your dog if you have one. Walk the neighbor's dog!
Maybe you can begin to incorporate a daily 10 minutes silent/still or even walking meditation into your life. Direct your attention to your breath, not your thoughts. Feeling the blues coming on? Go ahead, feel them, cry if you need to. Let go of the emotions and don't stifle them inside.
Be mindful. Listen. Don't give up. There are messages in the nothingness of life.
Oh, and did I say to leave the phone behind? :) Your boredom will turn to bliss.
#2 Connect to humanity in person
"What people need to feel to live is a feeling of intimacy, of transcendence, of joyful connection and of stimulating happiness". Rolando Araneda Toro, founder of the movement system, Biodanza.
Embracing joy and vitality in life begins with your connection to humanity. A life of loneliness and Facebook envy is not well lived or felt.
Creating space in your life for at least one or two weekly activities that involves joyful in- person communication with other humans beings doing something that pleases you will increase your capacity for joy and connection.
Human beings need to smile, laugh, be playful...everyday.
What could you do that increases your intimacy factor with others, the feeling of being connected to something greater than you and that also stimulates your happiness?
Choose one thing now. Go do it! Then do it again and hour later! And so on and so forth!
#3 Be more in your body and less in your head
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Friedrich Nietzsche
I think a lot. All day. I read. I am constantly using my brain and my cortex is mostly on overdrive...I am a Gemini, for sure. And a mother. That's exhausting in itself!
I am aware that some people think I'm lovingly odd with my bent for Biodanza in my life...all that hugging and connecting to other people, looking them in the eyes and, God forbid, a gentle caress and connecting to my sexuality through movement.
But I respectfully don't care.
For me, I am happiest when I leave my head space and allow my heart space and body the opportunity to expand and live in authenticity. Sometimes when my heart is hurting, I just need to dance...to let it go. Nothing else works for me. I find healing in my dance and my dance community who support and love me.
When I dance to my own personal beat with no choreography involved, my heart grows bigger and I am more able to embrace the chaos of my life in my dance. I am directing it. I get a total say in my chaos. Will it overwhelm me or will I allow my body to let go of it through movement...disperse the negative emotions?
Movement helps me to create the shifts I need in my life. And it can help you, too. Even if you are in a wheelchair without use of your lower limbs...it is possible.
When I dance, I am not thinking rationally or logically in my movement. I am just there. Being. Dancing. Feeling. Releasing old stuff and rejuvenating my essence.
So you, too, can do the same.
Dance allows us to embrace JOY & VITALITY in life in the body and heart...and we carry that outside the dance and into the world.
#4 Reach out to someone who can help guide you into joy & vitality
On the days that are crummy, it's so easy to sit and wallow in your pity party.
This is when you REALLY need to ASK FOR HELP and create the shifts you need to happen. Stop taking care of and pleasing everyone else and focus on you. Take that first step somehow.
A counselor, a trusted spiritual adviser, a life coach, a best friend....reach out. Make a plan to create the JOY & VITALITY that you deserve in your life.
Ask and thou shall receive.
#5 Focus on bringing the positive out from life
Don't focus on the trauma in life!
Story fondling over and over again will NOT create joy and vitality in your life. Just the opposite, in fact. You will remain entrenched in despair.
Instead, tell yourself what is good about your life? Make lists. Tell yourself every morning ONE good thing about life, yourself. DO something fun and joyous and above all, MOVE IT, GROOVE IT, SHAKE IT!
Take a baby step by ACTING on one of these ideas above...be still, connect to others, dance it out, reach out to a trusted guide.
Don't forget that love is just a heartbeat away....you are loved!
Blessings to you on your journey to joy & vitality,
And now to introduce you to three more writers:
Sarah O'Leary is a life and wellness coach certified by Dr. Martha Beck. She helps women reclaim their radiant vitality at midlife and beyond, so they can choose and live the life they've dreamed of. Find out more at Holistic Hot Sauce, www.saraholeary.net
Wendy Gauntner is contributing blogger at www.MondayLunchTrio.com, a weekly blog that marries family friendly recipes and life lessons. She’s a certified Martha Beck Life coach who likes to think she embodies old soul wisdom in a manic modern world. The rest of the time she’s a busy mom to her 11-year-old adopted son who defies every parental paradigm and inspires her to read parenting books others might never take off the shelf.
Julia Bushue works with recovering perfectionists who have trouble making progress on their goals, whether it’s finishing a project or finding a dream job. She writes on topics both specific and universal (from learning self-love to making good decisions) over at www.juliabushue.com.
It's 2014. Times are a changin'. A new consciousness is happening and people are becoming increasingly more aware of themselves and the world.
The internet has exploded our knowledge and sharing base and people are signing up for tele-courses hungry for something. You name it, it's out there.
Indeed, humanity is craving instruction, training, community and I believe, healing. Spirit is flooding the social media world with its beauty and feel good vibes. Even the Pope is getting major props and has a Twitter account he uses!
But here's the thing. Although I think the computer, telephone and Skype are the bomb and I use them way more than I should, actually BEING with other human beings in a meaningful way is the way we are going to heal ourselves, the world, the planet.
As Bruce Lipton, neuro-biologist and author of The Biology of Belief and The Honeymoon Effect says, it is a biological necessity to belong to a community. And while the internet can create that amicable link for us that connects us to loved ones and friends new and old....God knows how we all love Facebook and Twitter...it can also give us a deep sense of loneliness and separation keeping us locked up inside and not venturing out to connect.
What I am calling "Movement Coaching" is a gift to humanity in the form of a system I facilitate called Biodanza. You can read about the origins and benefits on my site, so I won't go into it at length here. It's nothing short of marvelous, I assure you.
It's what I've been doing all along before I actually completed a Life Coach training which gave me more of the verbal tools to use when coaching and facilitating with clients.
I had my A-ha moment halfway through the life coach...tele-course.... LOL! .....(I did hesitate as I don't love tele-courses) that I was already a life coach in disguise! And while I love my coaching tribe dearly and the awesome 8 month training experience, I felt/feel a disconnect in that I couldn't/can't BE with them more often.
Of course, being who I am I made personal contacts with other coaching tribemates in the area and met for coffee! This helped me connect on the up close and personal human plane. This is what makes me, a human being in this human world, tick.
I believe that disconnection from in person humanity is being lived by a wide majority of internet junkies today, teens included, and this is making so many sad and anxious grasping for more...internet experiences. I don't think they'll find happiness there.
My solution is.....
BIODANZA MOVEMENT LIFE COACHING
It creates a safe space for people to embrace their unique potential and connect to the "poetry of human encounter' with other alive human beings up close and personal.
It helps you FEEL all that you think and talk about in the verbal coaching sessions and engages you to EXPRESS it organically in the dance.
It helps men, women and teens liberate the MOTION in their eMOTION...otherwise the stagnant energy stays very stuck inside with the potential of causing dis-ease.
Thoughts create vibrations in the body. Movement takes your healing to that next FULL and COMPLETE level of healing that will clear up the blocked energy creating space for flow in the body.
It opens space for you to connect to your body compass in a loving way...your instinct... which will never lead you astray. The body is wise and never lies. Have you listened to yours lately? What is it telling you?
In person group movement life coaching might be a bit out of the box for many who have stopped dancing in public eons ago. Our culture has beaten it out of us, made us feel gawky and anxious about not having the perfect body and therefore, we can't show ours to anyone...especially not on the dance floor.
Or we've been told we are awkward with two left feet. Perhaps we have just lost the rhythm of life and need to rediscover it on the inside.
Our culture has made us feel weird about connecting in love with others, offering hugs and solace, offering our sincere presence. Many cannot hold the hand of another in solidarity nor look another in the eyes.
Many cannot offer their undivided presence to another human being. Count how many times a ringing cell phone or text message goes unanswered immediately.
But do not be turned away. Do not be scared to confront that which hinders you.
You can ease your way back to the sublime beauty of total integration- mind, body, spirit and action - with personal movement life coaching which is you getting to know...well, you. It is a good first step. Movement can help you reconnect with YOU!
But long term, that's a bit like a tele-course with...well, you....and me.
Optimally, step #2 is sharing the joy and love in a group of dancing, happy community of people that will reset your internal buttons to GO! Your body will be well on its way to organic biological and physiological healing! Full speed ahead!
But we take turtle steps forward and allow life to unfold as it needs to.
Group movement coaching is also a sure fire way to bring more JOY and VITALITY back into your life. After a day at work and of Facebook and Twitter, it's a refreshing way to shed the stagnation of stuck energy in the body.
I end with but one convincing testimony among many that I have read over the years. It is most touching to me and the honesty struck me in my heart space with love:
I experienced Biodanza for the first time last night and was incredibly introduced to a person I've never known - myself! A wonderful friend invited me to come experience her group…Thank you for considering my request to continue this life-changing art. I'm a 48 year old man who's never been in touch with himself-until now. "
Ah....it's never too late to discover what GROUP MOVEMENT COACHING can do for you.
And even though dance might not be a mainstream healing modality...yet.... you can come be part of the new paradigm for self healing with me and be proactive in your mind, heart, body healing!
Peace my private dancer warriors...
Come out of your living rooms and dance with me!
My fascination with the concept of epigenetics came about with my introduction to cellular biologist, Dr. Bruce Lipton who began his epigenetic quest in the 60's and who synthesized his many years of research in 2007 in the intriguing book, The Biology of Belief-unleashing the power of consciousness, matter & miracles.
I attended a couple of his wonderfully animated talks and power point presentations and have read his other works including his 2013 travail, The Honeymoon Effect, the science of creating heaven on earth. Now, that peaks my interest! Heaven on earth? Yes, please!
So what is epigenetics, you ask?
"Epigenetics is the science of how environmental signals select, modify, and regulate gene activity." Biology of Belief
It is the study of genes "epi" (above) the genes. It suggests that the expression of your cells is in direct relationship to the environment in which they live. So, basically, epigenetics is the study of what turns your genes "on" and "off".
Since becoming a teacher in 1985, then a Biodanza healing movement facilitator in 2007 and now a Life Coach, I have always been guiding people to connect to their right lives...that space where all is good and flowing for them. The more I study life, the more I am convinced that wrapping the mind around the implications of epigenetic studies can be supremely beneficial to human beings.
Taking the time to understand epigenetics offers us the possibility to get out from under the media machine that wants us to believe that we have no control over our health and wellness.
How many times have you heard someone say, "Well, my father had such and such, so I guess I'll get it, too." We are trained to think like this. The doctors tell us this. Our families act as if it's a given that we, too, will inherit it all..the good and the bad.
I hope that you won't let doctors, friends, the countless articles in magazines lead you to believe that you are anything less than POWERFUL and can play a major influence on your JOY FACTOR in life.
And please, don't let medicine, which has it's proper place in the medical world, be your go-to solution.
Remember, Big Pharma stands to loose billions if we all start questioning the exorbitant use of pharmaceuticals among Americans (70% of Americans take prescription drugs!). Please, spare me more commercials with the happy people touting amazing drugs to remedy problems where more of the commercial is spent on the dire and sometimes deadly side effects!!!
So, in honor of love for self and healing the body...
....here are my 5 top take-aways from the science of Epigenetics and other stuff I love that shape the way I live and the way I work.
1. LOVE, CONTACT & CARESS!
The best growth promoter for health and wellness is LOVE.
When in the love state, the brain releases chemicals (dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin) that go to the cells that control gene activity. It's the pleasure principle and it has a ripple effect.
Lipton says that given we humans are made of atoms and that atoms are vortexes of energy that send out ripples and waves, we can become "nano-tornados of energy...force fields of love" if we so choose. If in a good vibe, our atom filled body becomes entangled with others and voila....we can either grow a positive energy or reek havoc with negativity.
If you mix in some affectionate contact and caress with others, this also activates hormones in your body. The touch acts positively on your skin (the body's largest organ) transmitting signals to your body to produce even more feel good hormones. These hormones circulate in your body and affect your cells positively on a biological level.
Think of a mother breastfeeding and how warm and fuzzy and lovely that feels. The body is being flooded with oxytocin and both are feeling extreme love...unless the baby is biting, but that's another story!
The late, great molecular biologist Dr. Candace Pert in her work, The Molecules of Emotion, why you feel the way you do tells us that "from my research with endorphins, I know the power of touch to stimulate and regulate our natural chemicals, the ones that are tailored to act at precisely the right times in exactly the appropriate dosages to maximize our feelings of health and well-being."
Hmmm....this is all sounding so good!
More hugs and love = more healthy cells= LIFE being supported in a positive way
2. IT'S THE ENVIRONMENT!
The environment we choose to place ourselves in on a daily basis is KEY to our overall health and wellness.
If you live in a high stress world where your relationships, fear, job and life style create constant mind•body•spirit stress, your body will react accordingly. Your immune system function will break down due to the increased cortisol levels surging through your body along with other things like norepinephrine, cytokines and histamines which in abundance will create chronic inflammation and illness. These kinds of environments don't support LIFE.
Conversely, if you tend to your garden of life and strive to create a positive environment you can live a mostly happy and healthy life. This means putting your attention on creating an environment where the body is well fed with good foods, lots of love and good sex, leisure activities that get your body moving, a job you are passionate about and a spiritual connection to something greater...to name a few.
Cells in your body are shaped by where they live. Make it a happy place!
Cells always move forward towards signals that give LIFE!
3. YOUR DNA IS NOT YOUR DRIVER!
According to Dr. Lipton the vast majority of people are born with genes "that should enable them to live a happy and healthy life."
He says that there around around 10% +- of inherited DNA illnesses that, yes, may get passed on. But that's it. 10%. He explains through science, so read the book! The vast majority of illness, as you can see, is related to environmental aspects and.....
Belief. If you hand your belief system over to the 21st century thoughts on health and wellness and you truly believe you are going to get the dis-ease, like Angelina Joli did with her preventative radical mastectomy, then you probably will fall ill. Her decision to react with surgery was the right one for her in her case. She believed that her future entailed breast cancer and if it's true that our thoughts resonate with us and the world, then you will bring on what you are believing.
What are your belief values about YOUR health and wellness?
In her well researched book, Mind Over Medicine, Scientific Proof that you Can Heal Yourself, Dr. Lissa Rankin writes about dozens and dozens of cases showing us that our genes are "fluid, flexible, and highly influenced by our environment." Her conclusion also shows that emotional support and owning your own power of thought to heal creates positive outcomes in health and wellness. I really recommend this book for those who want to read more about other people's experiences with self healing.
Remember! You are NOT a prisoner of your DNA...no matter who tells you that you are. You have the POWER to control your genes. Do not "think" yourself sick!
4. THE SUBCONSCIOUS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK!
Your subconscious mind controls 90% of your life...what you do and what you think.
The other 10% comes from the cortex which is your identity source and is the seat of your creativity sparking your wishes, aspirations and dreams.
But the subconscious 90% makes you do what you do. The subconscious is like a record/playback system that is firmly embedded into most of us. It allows us to do habitual things, like drive a car on the correct side of the road while talking to a passenger next to us and listening to music changing the channel a few times, without even thinking about it. It also makes us believe certain things about ourselves that might not be true because they've been programmed into us at an early age....you can't dance, math is not your subject, you aren't pretty enough, etc... That's the subconscious at work.
We are PROGRAMMED with acquired and habitual experiences from childhood that drive us to do what we do and think what we think.
How we deprogram from the guilt, victimization, shame and blame we tend to harbor and guide our lives by is actually easy and doable.
We must re-habituate the body and mind with practice.
Here are a few ways that have worked for me.
a. Chinese Medicine. Take the art of medical healing called QiGong, for example. By repeating the movements of this ancient Chinese art of healing, we are opening the blockages in the body along which energy flows. These are pathways that the Chinese refer to as meridians. A QiGong practice allows the blood to flow better and our bodies to release blockages and receive new energy. Our body is being invited to reprogram itself with movement when we practice QiGong. I've experience the healing energy in my own body and highly recommend this practice.
b. Movement. When we practice Biodanza weekly, another healing modality of movement, we also repeat the movements from class to class in different configurations. We are relearning the functions of the body and in the process opening to flow and adaptation. My personal journey of transformation is due, in large part, to the weekly practice of Biodanza.
c. Hypnosis. In a deeply relaxed hypnotic state, the skilled practitioner can help you actually reprogram your negative learned experiences through suggestion. These programs are like tapes playing in your head....fear of flying due to an incident, anxiety of public speaking, desire to stop smoking, etc... The hypnotherapist can basically help you rewire these negative experiences.
d. Life coaching. We are human beings. We think a lot. We talk a lot. We analyze. We try to let logic guide us all of the time. There is constant chatter going on in our heads...and a lot of it is negative thought bashing. We can learn to use our own thought POWER by being present with our negative beliefs that keep us from health and wellness and questioning them, turning that belief around. We can learn to habituate our brains to thinking this way! My style of life coaching enables the client to come out from under the weight of what is holding them down and let the magic in.
e. Meditation. Mother, Father, Creator of All.... connecting to source by focusing the wandering mind and opening up to listening to the Divine is a guaranteed way to increase health and wellness in your life. It doesn't have to be for hours, either. 15 minutes morning and evening will set you on your way to wanting more!
5. IT'S A BIOLOGICAL NECESSITY TO BE PART OF A COMMUNITY
Just as your body is a giant community of internal cells that feed off each other, so does your outward physical self feed off of other people. Dr. Lipton says we are "skin covered petri dishes" and what we put inside and outside the "petri dish" has the power to make or break our wellness.
Lonely? Single? A couch potato? Drink lots of coke product with aspertame? Drink too much wine and beer? Eat too much fast food? Smoke? Yell a lot? Sleep poorly? Might not be so good for the quality functioning of your cells.
The body doesn't react well to negative eco-factors. Try to eliminate some!
Eating super healthy? Engaged in a movement activity that energizes your body? In love with a great person who honors and cherishes you and shows you lots of affection? Have great family and friends? Connected to a community that feeds your soul and nourishes your biological need for connection? Have compassion for yourself? Well now, that's nourishing for your "petri dish"!
The body thrives on positive eco-factors! Get more of them!
Connect yourself to a community that feeds LIFE into you!
Get some epigenetic LOVE in to your life and enrich it with POSITIVE ECOFACTORS that rock your world and pump up your health and wellness!
I happened upon Biodanza during a very low point in my life. I was seven years into my fourteen year journey in Africa, having given up my secure, independent life in the US and a tenured teaching job that defined me. I had married and had two children, but had lost myself somewhere along the way in the morass of new motherhood and the difficult task of adapting to new and challenging environments in poverty stricken African cities.
BIODANZA, poetry of human encounter
Discovering Biodanza was the product of pure serendipity in the form of a flyer on a gym wall. With trepidation, I made my first encounter, pregnant with my third child, in an outdoor Biodanza class.
I was initially taken back by the personal connections during the sessions, staring into someone’s eyes or holding hands with a stranger during the walking exercise. However, as the facilitator wove specific exercises into each class, I began to develop a comfort level with these connections and in time, a deep desire for this authenticity. The constant pulsation from me to the group and back helped me acknowledge that in my own adventurous and nomadic life, I was indeed strong and quite capable of embracing life’s authentic flow.
Peeling off the layers
With passion in my heart and a newly born baby, I decided to join the Biodanza School in Johannesburg. I was challenged by the level of intimacy that was carefully and progressively introduced. However, I felt safe connecting first with myself. What is that mask I am hiding behind? How is this showing up in my dance? As I began to peel away the layers with self-regulation and feedback, I felt the emergence of the real me within every dance. These are two important concepts reinforced in the Biodanza space. Self-regulation allows you to care for your physical needs in the dance—if you need to slow down, speed up, or even rest, you need to make the decision. Extending this concept to the other dancers, being in communication with them through awareness of their space, gestures, and need for contact is also stressed.
Connecting to presence
Next, and perhaps the biggest challenge, was learning to be present with others. Not superficially present as we tend to be in our busy Western society, but really connected with someone else in the dance. Holding hands, gazing into the “eyes of humanity” as Biodanza creator Rolando Toro describes it, or lying in a warm nest or “puppy puddle” on the ground, I felt increasingly comforted, contained, and liberated from cultural constraints of how we are supposed to relate to one another.
Deepening this ability to be authentically present with myself and others also allowed me to connect more profoundly to the Divine. When I dance now, I am filled with the presence of the numinous and feel this awesome energy in dancers with whom I ignite on the dance floor.
As a wife and mother of three, I am more connected in mind, body, and spirit ways that replaced the distraction I felt before. I look people in the eyes, focus on them, and don’t answer my ringing phone or look away with disinterest. I can say that I know what it truly is to be present with someone and I know that each moment of life is sacred and precious My “poetic encounters” now extend beyond the dance floor and spill over into my daily life.
Biodanza, the dance and blessing of my life...
(the original article first appeared in Conscious Dancer Magazine)
"Yo, dog. Why do you have to be all up in my grill?" says the teenager to the parent or Randy Jackson to Simon (American Idol pop culture reference for all you non reality show peeps!)
I've been thinking a lot about one of the main tenets of the life coaching program offered by Martha Beck, the "mother" of heart-based life coaching and monthly columnist in "O" magazine, although she doesn't exactly refer to it with this hipster jargon!
In fact, the more I contemplate this guiding principle, and see it working in my own life, the more I stand firmly in the belief that the understanding of this concept is the spring board of one's ability to get emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually healthy and happy.
It's really easy to suss. Here goes:
There's my business, your business and God's business and the only business I should meddle in is my own.
Pretty straight forward, heh?
The problem is we all LOVE to entwine ourselves à la Downton Abbey and solve other people's problems or we seem to have people who just need to interfere into ours. Such drama on which we humans thrive!
There's the "should have" type that is forever trying to tell us what we should do and how we should do it (my least favorite word in the dictionary) because "they know", or there exists the rescuer who is constantly trying to "save" someone's disastrous life, or heaven forbid YOURS and let's not forget the enabler who has no intention of setting you free.
How many of us know, or perhaps are, the "monster parent" (this is a real term!) who refuses to loosen the noose and let the child risk and take chances in life? Or are we part of an institution that harps on what we should do, believe, how we should act to survive, etc...and the list goes on.
We are lured by outside intervention and buy into the dramatic "game of thrones" readily from a very young age. Makes for messy business, indeed.
They're all in YOUR BUSINESS or YOU'RE IN THEIRS! One hot mess!
For sure, it's really challenging to have someone in your business droning on, giving you relentless, unsolicited advice.
What do you do that won't be harmful to them nor you? :)
Chances are these people are so wrapped up in your business, precisely because it's too scary for them to take a look at their own lives and/or you allow them ear space! It can be oppressive for you, but then again, maybe you like the constant drama and it frees you up from taking any kind of responsibility for your actions. You can always blame someone else for your tragedy, right? Something to ponder.
Let's not forget those who are bargaining with God for something or blaming God for something tragic in the world or even willing it all to the great Creator taking no responsibility for his/her own part in the situation at hand.....the state of the environment, religious/ego wars, our health, politics, the "bad stuff" that goes down in life, etc.
They're all in GOD'S BUSINESS.
It's mighty presumptuous of us, mere mortals, to even try to be in God's business. If you even believe in God, know that He/She/Divine One/Creator, Allah, Yaweh, whatever moniker you embrace, the ultimate I AM reigns supreme and knows what He's doing. Stay outta GOD'S BUSINESS! The ethereal one's got your back if you can surrender and open to love!
This only leaves one place for us to meddle....we need to get more up IN OUR OWN GRILL!
Admittedly, it's hard to go there...stay there...dwell for a while and/or repeatedly 'cause it's so damn HOT in our messy interior world, but alas, this is what needs to happen.
It's much easier to meddle in other people's lives and micro-manage them than to dig deep into our own psyches or to let others meddle in our affairs creating unnecessary drama. (I exclude babies and small toddlers who need attention for life threatening situations... like my brother who thought he was Superman at the age of 5 and with towel tied around his neck as a cape wanted to "fly" off the garage roof!... or teens in whose business a parent sometimes needs to meddle a tad to avoid total disaster!)
When it comes down to it, my friends, in our own intimate lives is really where we belong and where we need to begin to make changes in the world. We must begin with little ole "me". We need to be micro-managing our own thoughts and feelings and coming full circle with our own dirty business.
Occupy self, of sorts. We can start a new rEVOLution . :) Come on...I'm game!
2014 COACHING TOOL
Whenever you find yourself in a questionable situation wanting to jump into someone's drama and put in your two cents and save the day without being asked, ask yourself....
WHOSE BUSINESS AM IN NOW? WHY?
I can tell you that if you're not up in your own grill, get out fast before you get burned! Why not let people tend to their own issues unless they ask for some good, solid advice and you can actually come up with some?
And what happens when someone is interfering with your life, even if they have the best intentions and even if you are one hot mess?
You must explain gently the very simple concept of my/your/God's business and tell them to VACATE the premises with assertiveness. The good old expression, "It's none of your business" can be thrown out for a more forceful stance! The accused probably won't get it and you may offend some, but that's okay.
You get it and that's enough to get you started down the right path for you creating patterns of communication that serve you.
Set yourself on the right path in 2014 and GET MORE IN YOUR OWN BUSINESS!
You'll find that your hot mess of a "grill" will be cooking just right within time and life will be more pleasant, peaceful and mostly drama-free.
Sending you all peace in the new year,
I just spent a wonderful weekend at Kripalu in Lenox, Mass with my soul sister participating in a yoga/meditation weekend planned months ago to celebrate our 50th birthdays as Geminis.
It was facilitated by Paulist Father Tom Ryan of "yogi priest" fame renowned for his work on ecumenical dialogue and his many books.
He gave a warm and spiritual workshop called "Prayer of Heart and Body" that incorporated yoga, meditation and chanting and it was really wonderful to learn how to pray with the whole body to deepen our connection and LOVE to the Divine.
What better than to veg at Kripalu for the weekend!
Combined with my best friend from college, the idyllic snowy setting in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, the awesome food, daily roiboos tea, sauna and whirlpool to soothe the bones, a stellar massage, and a walk in the labyrinth (see photo above) this retreat weekend was an A+ for me all around and much needed TLC.
Chaos disrupts my peace with a bad sandwich!
What sandwiched the weekend like a pair of mold filled bread ends in the drawer was, however, a true test of my burgeoning zen nature and all things learned over this spirit filled weekend.
It started off with a flight gone wrong to White Plains, NY where we promptly had to turn around due to zero visibility (fog) and fly back to DC... ? Cray cray....don't these pilots get updates? Cell phone anyone? Two hours lost. It's 11:30 pm now.
Upon return, all flights were booked to my desired airport, of course, as other planes hadn't actually tried to fly and land in the fog only to be rejected landing. My options were thus slim to none...or Laguardia ... which is a nightmare even in good traffic.
After hemming and hawing and texting with my friend, I finally lucked out and got on a flight in the morning thanks to a super nice booking agent lady around whose booking desk I was lurking as she changed other people's tickets (I was undecided, but didn't want to lose my "place" in line, so lurked! Ha!) She eventually took pity on me and my predicament to NOT to miss this important workshop.
Hooked up...or so I thought!
After a bit of time, my new friend hooked me up with a coveted ticket to my same destination that very next morning bright and early when one popped up on her screen, shunning the irate traveler man who could have used it, but was ranting incessantly and annoying everyone, so he lost out.
She slipped it to me quietly as she beckoned me away from the booking desk... and him. Smooth move. I told her I loved her and bounded up the escalator before anyone could take it away from me! It was 1 am by now, but whoopeee, I had a ticket!
Going to the chapel (and I'm gonna get married...done that!)
That night I had the pleasure of sleeping in the chapel of the airport near the police station, thank God, (I got only a few winks and a crick in my back) only to wake up to, yep, another cancelled flight. The fog hadn't lifted. Was I not meant to get to this workshop?
Dunkin Donuts in hand, I queued up again. Third time was a charm with a flight booked into CT, but close to Kripalu, so it worked out for my friend to pick me up there.
Okay....I'm getting closer, I thought. And indeed, the flight was uneventful and we had a great trip up to Kripalu laughing and trading stories as girls do. The universe, indeed, wanted me there!
Finding the love...or not...
The weekend went by quickly and was peaceful and soulful for me.
There were, however, lots of Harville Hendrix couples trying to "Find the Love" they wanted....like 200+ couples, so the mood wasn't all that zen at Kripalu over this particular weekend and the conversations overheard at the dinner tables were fraught with "going deeper" type conversations. Bless them...I'm in a couple, so I get it.
Slipped into Rick Hanson's (author of the Buddha Brain) "Hardwiring Happiness" workshop for an hour and loved what he had to say. I've read the book and loved it.
In all, a REALLY pleasant couple of days. So grateful.
Then the chaos started again... the moldy bread just never goes away.
Jinxed. DC was rained out and frozen and my flight back home was cancelled. Freak storm in Dallas was creating havoc. Back to my friend's house I went for the night thanks to her son who came back to fetch me. Managed to re-booked the ticket for later the next day, but it, too, got delayed 3x. Jinxed again!
My plane was actually still in Dayton, OH and needed to go to DC before even heading up to me in NY, so I made the executive decision to rent a car and just drive home. Snow was threatening to pile DC into a mush wonderland.
GPS and EZpass in hand, off I went in my new Ford Focus. Focus, Michelle! :)
How ironic that I was enrolled in a yoga/meditation workshop and experiencing all this chaos...or maybe not...maybe it was a test?
How awesome was it that I was able to roll with it! Never once was I ruffled...okay, well, maybe once....but honestly, I mostly just felt in the flow of life.
I thank my daily meditation practice, my Biodanza get my flow on practice as well as the pearls of wisdom gained at the retreat for this.
My new found ability to go into stillness and just breathe is serving me oh so well. It allows to me access this place of "whatever" that calms and centers me within moments ... most of the time, at least. I do have my moments, admittedly, but I am human.
WHERE'S THIS BRIGHT SIDE?
So, my new fave thing to ask myself and my coaching clients is "How is this situation just perfect for you right now"? which is a play on the old expression that your mother used to ladle out to you "Look on the bright side, honey..."
So let me share MY BRIGHT SIDE with you...
1. I got to see my friend's boys who I love so much and got to spend quality time with them.
2. I got to see the new Farrow and Ball paint job that my friend was raving about at her house. Very chic plus a good night's sleep.
3. I was able to help out my friend with an important errand that she couldn't do the next day...
4. ...after which I got a pretty manicure and a Starbucks to make myself feel good and kill some time.
4. I sang like a rock star, which I love doing, on my four hour drive south and listened to some fab x-mas music noting tunes I need to make a playlist of for easy listening.
5. I spoke to a few people on speaker which was really enjoyable. Hands free is the law! :)
6. I got another Starbucks at the rest stop for a caffeine jolt. (I need stock in that company.)
7. Airline refunded me 1/2 the price of my ticket due to whole boondoggle of an experience. Did this while eating a Whopper which I later regretted.
8. Supershuttle also refunded me my return portion as I no longer needed it. Nice!
9. I got home to my kids intact and earlier than the darn flight that eventually did take off later on in the evening. (and PS, we do have the day off again today here in the DC area due to 5 inches of snow!)
10. I mini meditated MANY TIMES this weekend....an Rx that I have at my fingertips when chaos knocks at my door.
TEACHABLE MOMENT OF MY STORY?
The next time someone tells you to "look on the bright side" and you want to string them up by their toes, make a list of all the positives that have come out of the unfortunate situation. I am sure you will find some.
Keep doing this in your life and soon you will become the observer of an ever more zen and happier life opening to FLOW and CHAOS with no major breakdowns...give or take a hissy fit or two!
Like the photo says, MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH...
and likewise in your heart.
NELSON MANDELA 1918 - ∞
A great human being has transitioned today, sent from above on a special mission to our world.
He was a man who believed in miracles and sought to make it happen.
His light shone brightly for 95 years as a beacon for love and justice. Many followed his path joining his journey....a blazing road of turbulence and strength toward the future in the hopes that all could embrace "ubuntu" or human kindness.
May South Africa and the world at large be able to embrace his innate goodness and integrity, his deep love for humanity, and his clarity of vision for his country.
Madiba was a warrior for reconciliation and for peace with the ultimate goal being LOVE. He knew that small acts of loving kindness among individuals and even bigger acts of loving kindness on the state level could add up to BIG, BIG LOVE for South Africa and that this could ripple out to the rest of us. He was right. And we are grateful.
Thanks to Mandela and his comrades a miracle, indeed, did happen in South Africa in 1994 with the abolishment of apartheid making way for the next journey into reconciliation and peace.
Shine on us from above, Madiba, and infuse us with your courage as we are left to continue the healing you have begun. We need your courage in every county on this planet.
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." Nelson Mandela
Tonight I mourn the loss of a precious little girl. A dancer. A liver of life. A daughter. A sister. A friend.
I met her only once and had the opportunity and joy of seeing her fly across the dance floor with her Build a Bear Turtle turning and twirling as we took a one hour journey through movement.
A little girl so content to be in the moment. A little girl whose teenage brother loved her so much he acquiesced to coming to an expressive family dance class! Now, that's love!
A smile as wide as the ocean across her face, she pranced around in her little socks clutching her turtle, dancing with her doting Mom and Dad and the other kids in the class. She had a lot of fun and was elated as she got to ride on the magic carpet pulled by her brother as she enjoyed the ride sliding across the room.
I mourn the loss of a devoted family who loved a sweet little girl who loved the sweet apples that were served after class while drawing a picture of her dance adventure, so much so her mom called me to find out where I bought them!
Hannah, for sure, taught many people many lessons in her short lifetime and touched many lives. She was especially sent here to teach us about the value of life. I am sure.
Adieu, Hannah. May your flight to heaven be joyous and full of light and love and dancing with turtles.
I had the most amazing experience last night in Washington DC. So powerful that it really knocked me off my feet onto a chair for a bit.
I attended the Maitrya Buddha relic Loving-kindness tour being held at the Church of the Holy City near Dupont in DC by happenstance as I was also facilitating a Biodanza class in the same location.
As I waited in line with my husband, we chatted matter-of-factly about life in general, took off our shoes after a 15 minute wait on the 200 years old spiral staircase and proceeded in the chapel as they let in maybe 20 people at a time at any one time.
The whole church area was vibing with great energy beforehand, but in this room full of incense, gold relics, flowers , statues, monks, nuns, I really felt it. I was awash with emotion already. I spotted a monk or nun performing what looked like a blessing ceremony and asked another if I could also go in that line. She said yes. Feeling moved, but still quite okay and grounded I waited my turn. I'll take any blessings I can get!
I noticed she was asking each person something and wondered if I was suppose to be prepared to pray for a wish. I came up with the desire for more compassion and wisdom, my standards, and was ready to tell her.
Upon my turn I made eye contact with the monk/nun...still not sure.... and she whispered to me a sentence that I didn't quite understand and then said... "see it in there!" as she showed me the golden conical shaped item she was holding that had a glass window encasing something that I couldn't quite zero in on as it was an inch from my face! I was at a relic tour and I should have guessed, but since I had made a beeline for blessing, I didn't really know what a Buddha relic was at that point!
At any rate, I knelt and she placed this object, draped with a white slim cloth under it, over my crown and held it there for about 30 seconds. My hands placed on my heart, I immediately felt an warm energy surge run through me. Like an infusion of love.
I got up and immediate was touched by the emotion within me and had to sit. I found an empty chair on the sides of the chapel and sat one seat away from a young monk/nun clutching a box of tissues.
She gently placed it on the chair next to me sensing I was going to cry, I guess, because I did. I was so moved my this simple experience and what I didn't really understand was that inside the conical shaped object were relics from the Maitreya Buddha.
Relics were found among the cremation objects of the Buddha and other Buddhist Masters and now resemble beautiful pearl-like crystals (see photo) embodying the master's, get ready...compassion and wisdom!
I got up, trying to withhold my tears, in order to move around the relic table with my husband who was at the top of the line by now. First up, pouring water on the Buddha statue bathing him, then sounding chimes to awaken my spiritual guides. We gazed at these holy relics and the other visual delights on the display. So amazing.
Tears continued to stream down my face. I couldn't stop the flood of emotion in me. Not sadness, not joy. Just emotion. Beauty. Calm. Peace. All of this history before me. I felt it.
I am not a Buddhist and am not sure about the controversy surrounding the Maitreya Buddha...check it out on Wiki..... but I do know that something beautiful happened to me that night.
My heart was opened a bit more to compassion and loving-kindness. It was the Loving-kindness Tour, after all. And the world needs more of that.
"small talk about rEVOLutionary