So recently we co-facilitated an inner dance teacher training in Paris alongside good friend and awakened belly dance teacher Katie Holland. There's always something moving that happens in Paris. Perhaps the crowd is more expressive, more immersive, they let themselves slide deeper into the spontaneous archetypal theatre that the inner dance can become. Whatever it is, there's always the sense that we're in for a good show when we cross the channel.
This time didn't disappoint.
There was plenty to reflect upon with everything that happened. We had previously speculated that this particular workshop might be called something like; Inner dance - sex and money. given the amount of root fears that had been pushing up from the belly of the beast in our respective fields.
And it felt earthy. It felt like it wanted to be on the ground, in the body, carnal, primal, filled with drums and breathing.
At least that was what I was willing to project onto it.
If you listen well enough, time can often tell you to what extent you're delusional with your intuitions, and how whether you're charismatic projections are simply being absorbed blindly by the audience, feeding back into your own ego, or whether you've actually really tapped into an undercurrent of the general times and are merely articulating it back to anyone who'll listen.
As these spectacles continue I feel less the sense of urgency to project my agenda onto an audience and find myself wanting to listen to the room, to hear their call and respond from the pause between the stimulus and my looping ego reactivity. It feels like my soul yearns for that space at which a real conversation can occur; from a glimpse of emptiness where life simmers beneath the surface as new un-manifest potential waiting to thrum into life through the gap. That agenda is a good one to be taken over by.
Two things stuck out for me. They were good questions.
One of them, externally driven, was about the function of inner dance.
Why the hell do groups of people get together in a little room, play music and hallucinate through movements with one another in a totally bizarre and unfathomable way?
The second from the inner mirror.
What the hell are you doing facilitating this kind of nonsense?
And it is non-sense. A non-linear, non-orderly invitation for hyper-primed chaos. A destruction of rigid systems of interpretation and seed planting for the new and creative. Although in some way all it is is sense. A tuning and honing and refining of the subtle senses that begin when we're not blinded by dumbed down symbols, crudely mistaking them for the underlying experience of reality. I've been trying to normalise and refine whatever it is that's being done down to the least nonsensical, least controversial, least pushy and most simplistic, supportive, pragmatic and grounded version of a functional, 'in the world' framework that can help people (and myself) do two things:
A) Trigger and integrate a complex variety of often dissociated emotional sensations, on a journey towards something that looks like a whole, well put together, human being that can live in the world.
I recently heard this from a relationship coach I've been studying; "You know you've healed something when you feel love and gratitude for it." This can often come in an overwhelm of tears as if a wall has been crumbled within and the emotion, once banished to the ominous wasteland of the dissociated field now comes flooding back and merges with the whole, spontaneously rearranging itself into a new order of being, energy rich and adaptive to the times. These kinds of emotional breakdowns occur frequently within the inner dance framework. And so we have to trigger and challenge, to push this agitated bottleneck of anger and annoyance, bringing it to boil so it can be given passage, and when it does, the music then holds the way for what's often underneath, a deep grief and sadness, sense of loss and longing for love, which when given the same observational awareness, eventually evaporates into clarity and understanding. This can be quite a complex field, and it's important that those who come to the work are willing to take responsibility for their discomfort and volunteer to be triggered. It's often easier to break things down than it is to put them back together again. Most people know how to smash stuff. Not everyone knows how to build. And since I don't want to be an agent of dysfunction, giving people the necessary support and tools to help them build themselves back up again with time and care (which is needed) is vital. Also supporting them to help each other in that is a valuable resource. So, how to use what you learn about yourself to live well in the world, and how to nurture the growth of new perception structures are equally important aspects, which brings us to the next point;
B) Speak and listen to as much truth as possible in the time and space given.
"You're done with a memory when you've extracted all the information to orient yourself properly in the future" - Jordan Peterson. If you still resent or cling to it, it still controls your behaviour in the moment. The truth is sharp, it can cut through protective layers to brutally painful realisations. but lies and careless speech are worse, they distort and twist the fabric of reality so that your fundamental being has no solid foundation on which to build itself. You're a house of cards, riddled with anxiety, always waiting for the slightest motion to pull the rug from under your existence. Everybody lies, they over promise and under deliver, they agree to things they don't agree with, they say things they don't know to be true as if they are true. We're constantly fabricating, distorting and undermining the fabric of our soul with careless speech. It's usually a protective mechanism, to save us from the brazen nature the truth can often adopt. But by being perceptive to the truths often darkened nature, daring to breathe out all the way and speak it, however it arises in the moment, there's a foundational clarity that can begin to rearrange your psyche from a ghostly fragmented chaos, into an orderly and clear system of interpretation. This energy is captivating, you know when you encounter it, and by speaking it you also encourage others to do the same. Your collective efforts call forth the kind of energy that builds reality anew from the void of potential, you reorganise your perceptions of memory, add the context of a larger story to your suffering, which most importantly, gives it meaning. And you need that if you want to feel genuinely alive in the world. So you begin to construct a new narrative into which your pain has a place and is valued. From this integrated perspective, or what could be called something like 'the whole view' you're no longer consumed by the searing ferocity of your personal injustices, or mad dark emotional states.
The truth works. And the more people grapple and fumble towards speaking and listening to it, the more freedom we all begin to enjoy.
And so to put that together in a little simple 2 part package of personal take-aways;
1. Try to feel stuff.
2. Tell the truth.
Being sensitive is hard. It's not a wonder people aren't into it, and will generally do whatever they can to avoid it. It's painful and terrible, yet it's essential. Because it's your capacity to know and experience what life is and could be. And that might be way better than you think.
How do you feel stuff properly? Well, it might be easier to recognise when you're not. If you watch yourself closely, or even just sit down and ask yourself, you'll know what you're doing to avoid feeling something important. There will be habits you engage in, ways you medicate yourself, sex, drugs, rock and roll, relationships, food, TV, busyness, It's an exhaustive list of sometimes necessary crutches. For me it has been most of the aforementioned with added external intensity to avoid boredom - Newness.* But the good thing about feeling stuff is that the entry point is always right under your nose. It's the truth of what's going on right now, with you, in body. What do I feel? depressed, numb, sad, dead, constricted, whatever. OK. True. Now to what degree can I give my entire relaxed body into that sensation? I don't know. let's see.
How do you know when you're telling the truth? And you need to ask this question because you're probably not as good at it as you think. Don't assume you even know what the truth is yet necessarily, you have to speak with the intention of stumbling towards it, get through the layers of nonsense you've conditioned yourself to react to life with and reach for something more true than the last thing you've said. At least then you're moving in the right direction, and when you do dig into yourself deep enough to chance upon a vein of reality and are skilled enough to manifest its articulation, often you'll come to life, and so will the room. You will feel stronger in your being. And you may also feel the honest pain and fear that telling deep truths can often be accompanied by.
The converse will often occur when you're bullshitting.
You'll feel weaker, you'll start to cringe at yourself and what you're saying. If you become sensitive to functional shame, it can be a great indicator as to when you're compromising the integrity of your speech and making yourself a little bit more of a ghost. Often people will be less engaged, and so will you, it's like you're reading from a script and the words won't feel alive.
We're no good at either of these things really as a homogenised culture and we ought to get better if we fancy ourselves a future. That's what this work really boils down to. Our zombie apocalypse is already quite apparent. I watch myself watching TV, craning my neck into my cell phone as life vanishes around me, Like I can feel a physiological headache arise the instant I do it and I still do it! rationalising along the way, tuning out to dull 2 dimensional realities that offer hints of entertainment to distract me from the terror of a meaningful adventure in the world. It's too comfortable. I listen to flat and inane conversations between people, trying to tell each other who they are, and revel in some minor victory of superiority. It's worse when I'm participating in them, then I don't even get the momentary dopamine hit of superiority! And in the gaps between you catch yourself; "God, listen to me, I'm just saying things. It's completely horrible."People go out, addled with self hatred, masquerading under a thin veil of plastic glamour, so desperate to preserve the moment, yet so far away from it in their anxiety, drinking towards numbness, like a dying breed while the oceans fill with plastic.
It's actually fairly bonkers. To what degree we must abhor and fear a genuine relationship with reality, that we have to construct a values system predicated on how many people we can get to validate who we're pretending to be.
It's also no wonder. Reality can be totally brutal thing to face into, especially learning stuff about yourself; how pathological and neurotic you are, it's the worst! But it's honest, and that's by far the most reliable thing to bet on.
I watch myself play these games of fancy, conflate and delude myself, get careless with my words, do unconscious speech to fill the discomfort of silence, fail to check in with or up on myself to find out where I'm at. Just trying to figure out what the hell I'm up to is half the battle, most of the time.
And so I remedy by acting as if I was somebody I cared about, watching, listening, trying to feel and stumble towards a skill and competency with the truth.
And you, the facilitated facilitators in training help me do that. That would be my big thank you to the small growing group of weirdos who embrace this dynamic and intense self inquiry.
That you let yourself be moved enough to get stuck in, to try to figure out who the hell you are, what the hell is going on, and why the hell you're here.
I salute your courage.
Thank you for being.
*A side note on boredom.
I avoid boredom like the plague. A recent revelation revealed (as revelations tend to) that boredom may well be the precursor to new life. Like, if you can really drop into it, and sit there and tell the truth to yourself about it. Accept that it's happening. It's like a space opens up within for something to grow. But anxiously avoiding it, as I tend to, doesn't really allow space for that opening to arise. So perhaps going to see how bored you can get and find out what reveals itself from that void is exactly what meditation is.