Dance when you’re broken open.
Dance when you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance when you’re perfectly free.
Picture this: your working overtime just to break even, you can’t remember the last time you slept more than 5 hours straight, most of your clothes remain soaked in baby saliva and crusty spit-up, your full fledge in the circus of life feeling under par in your juggling skills with all the balls being thrown your way, your body is recovering well–minus the twisted knee, your passions are screaming for more attention. And you’re supposed to be dancing?
Word to the wise, yes. As Rumi and so many artists have encouraged in times that have past, now, when things feel lost, and broken, and tired, and confusing, and painful, dancing–expressing your self as you are, as vulnerably as you can–is a must.
Dance is as unique as the life form itself. Since the earliest of civilizations it has been used as a form of ritual, ceremony, celebration, communication, entertainment, and healing.
The Waggle dance is a term used to describe a trademark figure-eight dance the honey bee uses to share foraging details with other members of their colony.
Whirling dervishes have been spinning around in circles for hundreds of years as a form of meditative dance towards connecting with the divine.
Shiva, the archetypal God, the pure one, the force of destruction and transformation according to mythos, is responsible for the dissolution of disillusionment. Shiva is often depicted as Shiva Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer, the pure King of Dance, performing the iconic Anandatandava dance of destruction within a burning ring of fire. This ring of fire known as the prabhamandala is symbolic of the impermanent reality of existence, the energy of wisdom, the transcendental light of truth. Believing that destruction is a necessary precursor to creation, Shiva dances in the fire with “ananda”—happiness.
The most natural dancer I know is my infant daughter. When she laughs she expresses so much joy that her entire 25 inch body vibrates. Her smile outshines the sun in any desert. Her dance of distraught is equally beautiful. One day this past week her evocative wailing began.
“Baby!” I said, “No crying!”
I caught myself in the moment; that particular point in time when the truth of the words coming out of your own buccal cavity comes into question. Wait a minute. Yes crying! Cry baby, cry away, cry it all out, be free in your crying!
At what point did we stop dancing?
Not the awkward side-to-side sway we did with our crush in middle school, or even the choreographed steps learned in ballet class. The dance that is in our bones, that is uninhibited, the authentic expression of self that connects us with something real and greater, the movement that speaks feelings, the healing practice that embodies transcendence through whatever is rising and falling away. We are born into freedom of expression as the baby, indulging in laughter, crying unapologetically, moving and shaking and rolling and communicating through every emotion as it comes as a way of being understood. Then we mature into fear of expression as the adult, foreboding joy, mistaking tears for weakness, and attempting every other obstacle imaginable to keep from having to feel vulnerable.
Friedrich Nietzsche said, “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
Life is full of chaos.
Unexpected ups and downs and all-arounds that strip us down and bare a little bit more of our being until finally we throw our hands up and say, this is me. This is the unadulterated me who is perfectly imperfect regardless of where I am, where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, how I feel, what I have, what I’ve done. It is in that vulnerable expression of self that our light is free to move, and our brightness comes alive.
Struck, the dancer hears a tambourine inside her,
like a wave that crests into foam at the very top,
Maybe you don’t hear that tambourine,
or the tree leaves clapping time.
Close the ears on your head,
that listen mostly to lies and cynical jokes.
There are other things to see, and hear.
A brilliant city inside your soul!
You too have your own picture that makes it hard to move yet all the more reason to dance. Lean in to vulnerability. Express your self freely through the rhythm of your life. When we waggle and spin and dance through the fire we awaken our light. Share your soul’s brilliance, rock out in your radiance, let your good juju jiggle. Through the chaos of it all be born again as the star that you already are.