You should work out. You should lift weights. You should eat less. You should eat less but more often. You should meditate. You must come to pole class more often. You should dance like a gymnast. You shouldn’t dance like a stripper. You should do yoga everyday.
We all have goals. We all have a deep abiding purpose that fills us with passion to do something more, be something more, or create something amazing to share with those we love (and perhaps the world). We want to dance, float, stream across the studio floor, but we’re not exactly sure how to become that PERFECT DANCER in our mind. The media, the magazines, and the television say we can get there IF we drag our asses to the gym every day, IF we starve our bodies senseless, and IF we beat ourselves up because we’re not good enough. So we try this, we try that, we try EVERYTHING they say. But along the way, our bodies start to feel painful, cramped, damaged. The PERFECT DANCER eludes us, and the INJURED DANCER seems to take her place.
The world force feeds us it’s opinion and all we can do is say “Thank you sir, may I have another?” –Well Fuck That!
I believe that all that “should-ing,” “must-ing,” and “have to-ing” is the reason we’re all so damn confused in the first place. We run around, looking for the quick fix, listening to everybody’s advice, and discount the small voice inside ourselves (so quiet you can barely hear her) that whispers “Maybe, I could try something gentler, something more compassionate, something that just feels good.”
Dancing, yoga, and pole do feel good. They feel DAMN GOOD, but not if we push ourselves to the breaking point every time we step on the mat or wrap our hands around a shiny pole. Not if we force ourselves into death defying aerial feats (even though our shoulder is still recovering from that last injury, and our knees are still bruised from floorwork, and we suddenly want to cry for no fucking reason) all because everybody else is doing it.
At the same time the world is shouting at us (or worse we’re shouting at ourselves), our body is responding to all these forceful words in a very destructive way. Our body is working overtime, causing all sorts of stress to build up under the surface. Whether we notice it or not, the words we speak are a big reason why our lives our either frantic or fantastic. It’s chemistry.
Stick your right arm straight out in front of your body with the palm facing down. Now press on the top of your wrist with your left hand.
Did your right arm drop or did it resist the motion. My guess is that most of you resisted the motion even though it was perfectly safe to let your arm drop.
Our limbic/lizard brain instinctively resists any force we encounter. And that’s exactly what words like “should,” “must,” and “have to” do to our bodies too. Here we are, trying to fill our lives with passion, purpose, and more than a little sex appeal, and these simple words are communicating a force that our lower brain can’t distinguish from an enemy pushing us off a cliff or a dinosaur trying to eat us. So we push ourselves to keep fighting because the media keeps filling us with the same No Pain, No Gain BS. All the while our body resists, and resists, and resists. Until our jaw is clenched, our breath is shallow, our back hurts every morning, and our adrenal glands are exhausted from pumping out too much cortisol. All we wanted was to be the PERFECT DANCER, but now we feel like a BURNED OUT DANCER.
The Way Out is In
Luckily you’ve already got the solution. You’ve got an instant “NO-Should Zone” where you can practice releasing all those forceful words and all that caveman stress along with it. When it’s time for your practice, you can choose to let go of outside thoughts and listen to the compassionate voice inside you. You can ask your classmates to communicate their opinions without using “should,” “must,” or “have to” (and your teacher too).
You might struggle a little rewording things, but when we remove force, what’s left is the reason why so many of us dance in the first place; acceptance, freedom, permission. We don’t “have to” be a perfect dancer, an injured dancer, or a burned out dancer…. we can simply dance because we fucking want to.
Remember, it’s YOUR practice, it’s YOUR dream, it’s YOUR passion, it’s YOUR dance. Nobody can know what the right path is for you, until you decide to walk it. As you glide and twist and turn and spin, take notice of whatever painful or forceful words you hear (whether they come from the inside or out). Try to remember that an opinion doesn’t have to be a part of you. All those forceful words don’t have to be a part of you.
You can choose to let them go.
You can choose to move with your body’s intuitive rhythms.
You can choose to listen to the subtle waves of emotion and energy and truth already coursing through you.I choose to dance…. What will you do?