Archive for April, 2013
An Alexander Technique teacher once told me that the best way for me to go through life would be just a little bit drunk. She was alluding to my serious nature. Uber responsible. Anxiety ridden. Since I don’t drink alcohol, well, that was not really an option. But I took her words to heart. What she was telling me, especially in relation to my body, was that in order for me to feel more free, I had to let go of feeling like I had to hold it all together.
Where did the serious one come from? When I was very young, my mother said I would laugh so hard that I would sometimes throw up. And it was because I thought things were really funny. I remember these days, crying and laughing and laughing and crying…and feeling very, very light. And that life was magical.
I have started touching those sensations again doing breathwork and often dancing…touching those places of simple existence when my body so clearly sees that my mind is not in charge and that existence really is funny and light in its realness. Imagine a life without anxiety. Shit would still happen, it always does, it’s part of life. But the possibility that I could not hurt myself with it, that I could be responsible – responding to life – without taking on the weight. Whoa. I am now living for that.
Drunk without drinking. So many layers around this. So many addictions and addicts in my life. Neptune in music and art and drugs and dance and drink of course. If something brings me closer to myself and I want to do it over and over again, is it an addiction? Can I be sober and relaxed at the same time? Escapism versus ecstatic merging. Sex…did I mention sex? Not all the time, but sometimes, sex.
I am seeing it all so clearly these days. I think this is the gift that sobriety has given me. I had to begin looking inside myself for ways to find a release from all the tension I was holding inside of me. A way to move past (or with) the anxiety that is not about escaping but about living in the present moment and in a healthy way.
If you know me, you know that I dance, a lot. But I freely admit that sometimes, even this is an escape. An escape from what, you ask? An escape from my fears, my insecurities, my unhappy feelings, my unfelt life. And most of all, the mundaneness of it all. Sometimes, Calgon is a good option. And as far as ways to merge go, dancing not only makes me feel great, it also makes me look great. And you can’t really say that for all the things we use to feel more than the moment.
To be grounded. The great spiritual nature of this. To be grounded and yet also feel my never-ending self. Living in the moment, in the never-ending river that is life. Okay, it ends at some point, at least in this body. But in between here and there, I would like to be real.
I was almost through the end of April Fool’s Day and thinking, geez, nothing today. Did everyone forget? And then I checked my inbox and found this from Conscious Dancer Magazine
“In a surprise statement today, the American Medical Association did an about face on the pharmaceutical industry, and recommended that before prescribing anti-depressants or mood-altering drugs to people of any age, and especially youth, that a program of holistic dance/movement therapy be implemented first and evaluated before trying medication as a last resort. The new initiative, called “Dance First”, is a call-to-action for everyone in the health care industry and dance/movement fields to be proactive, and is timed to take advantage of the auspicious nature and spirit of levity that surrounds April 1st… 😉”
In my excitement about this new initiative, I stopped at “a call-to-action” and had a moment of “Wow, the world really is changing!” And then I promptly sent this to the whole Nia Technique faculty and all my dancing friends. And then, someone pointed it out to me… April Fool’s! Awwwwww! I spent maybe one half a second feeling foolish and then thought, but no, this is still a call to action. In fact, I am already manifesting this calling to use dance to bring health and joy to people’s lives.
I think this is what made me really believe and then when it turned out to be a joke, I thought, well, still, why not? If I had a buck for every time a student came up to me after class and said something like “This is my therapy”, or “This is way better than therapy”, or “If I did not do this, I would go crazy” or “My husband insists I come to Nia. He says it makes me so much happier and I am so much nicer to him when I dance”… I would have a lot of bucks! The AMA does not need to prescribe what so many of us already know. A healthy mind accompanies a healthy body and bodies LOVE to move to music!
Nonetheless, I ask myself, what would a world where a Healthcare system encouraged us to “Dance First” rather than prescribed drugs first look like and feel like? That is the wonder question that motivates my call-to-action. I think I became so jaded about our Healthcare system a long while ago. So much of it seems to be based on greed, skimming the surface of what health is and treating people as if they do not know their own bodies. Along with the “Dance First” initiative, I would like to see a “Know Thyself First” initiative as well. That would also say a lot about the new world.
Many of my fellow dancers fell for this prank too, we know it is the truth for us, that dance can alter our moods and turn a bad day into a great day. It can help us move our emotional bodies, creates space for expression and the release of stuck energy. For our minds, we know that dance feeds our imagination and fosters mental clarity. For our spirits, dance sets us free. We are better human beings because we dance. I generalize when I say this, but also speak this as a universal and timeless truth.
I know some of us have also been prescribed and are using anti-depressants and mood altering drugs. And for many, these are a blessing and a great help in leading better lives. But I wonder how many were asked, before being given the prescription, if dance was part of our lives and if we would be willing to explore that as an option first. Dancing creates its own chemical soup for us to bask in; endorphins for one (which we can get from many forms of exercise http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression). Add on the therapeutic component of self-expression with what many of us who dance identify as a sense of meaning when we move and the stage is set up for the desire to be ourselves, in our bodies, here, NOW. That is healthy.
So although this was a prank that Conscious Dancer put out, it is also a truth in its essence, and personally, I do not need the AMA to tell me that “Dancing First” is pretty much the answer for most of what ails me. Join me in spreading the truth behind the prank, if it is true for you.
Maria Skinner is on the Nia Technique Training Faculty and is a Nia Black Belt Instructor. She says find a Nia class this spring and blossom like the lilies in May!