Sometimes I am overcome with a feeling of such intensity that I don’t know how to express it in the moment. My initial response is to hold it in, while I assess how safe it is to disclose my state of mind. Growing up, I wasn’t taught or encouraged to be anything other than pleasant at all times. The open expression of grief and outrage puzzled me for most of my life. I even learned to self-monitor my excitement.
Rewiring my mind and body to express myself in a healthy way is an ongoing process. Anger shows up as a flash of heat traveling up my back and neck, even though my body is frozen. That smoldering fire is my warrior Goddess demanding to be let loose so she can come to my defense. Joy feels like a lightening bug ecstatically zipping around in a jar, on the verge of short-circuiting. Grief descends upon me like an enormous weight, compressing me down into the earth while all of my vitality gushes out. The difference in how I respond to my feeling-states now is that I have a toolbox of embodiment and meditative practices that help me to identify and release forbidden feelings and the associated physical sensations. Body scans, guided meditations, expressive journaling, somatic tracking, and even brain therapy.
But it is no surprise that my feminine movement practice is the favorite, providing me an outlet to express the far corners of my soul. I’ve been digging up repressed feelings, both light and dark, one dance class at a time. My body craves to move and be seen, even on days when I’m feeling shy. My dark goddesses want you to witness their fury, and my sensual goddesses want to be worshipped for their juicy, sultriness.
Recently I had the pleasure of dancing to a new assignment at my studio: bring a song that represents radiant love. At first, I balked. The theme sounded cheery and feel-good, a little too feel-good for me. I gravitate towards the shadowy darkness of a resentful, f-you song. Mmmm.
But I’ve been doing this practice long enough to know that I am full of surprises, and if I don’t feel uncomfortable from time to time, I’m not expanding or growing.
“The exploration of this world is more challenging than the exploration of outer space, and the journey to inner space is not necessarily an easy or a safe trip”Boundaries of the Soul, June Singer
Watching the other women in my class intuitively move to the song of their choice, I saw the spectrum of love manifested. Sensual, sassy, vulnerable, flirty, soft, and gentle. Everyone interpreted the assignment in the only way true to their body.
And then there was my fiery, radiant love. As always, I went with my gut and chose a song that felt right in my body–a song that consumes me with exhilaration and victory every time I hear it. As I made my way across the dance floor, twisting and turning, head whipping and power posing, I felt as though I was proclaiming my love for my beloved sweetheart. I smiled beneath my face covering. I imagined myself going all in on this journey of love that so beautifully captivates our species. What a wonderful adventure it is to be with my partner, to have found each other, to be our most authentic (i.e. quirky) selves every day, and to face the beautiful unknown of this life.
Dancing to the beat of my passion and appreciation for my romantic partnership was an experience outside my usual dance practice. My energy is generally focused inward, but I have a beautiful relationship that I get to celebrate. This love brought forth a current of energy in the studio that can only be described as pure joy in my body from head to toe. There was nothing muted about my performance.
This practice, y’all.
Feminine movement wasn’t a walk in the park the first class, or even the first several months. I had never even heard of feminine movement. Awkwardly navigating my body, worrying if I’m doing the moves “correctly,” I had not the slightest clue where this journey would take me three years later. But I persisted in this practice through national and global crises, months of shelter-in-place, and an injury that took me nearly a year to recover from. If those forces can’t stop me, then I’ll be hip-swinging and hair-flipping into my golden years.