This Holy Dance


This Holy Dance

Posted on May 11, 2015

 “We have met the enemy, and (s)he is us. “ -Pogo

I was blessed with an amazing opportunity to go and teach at a spiritual retreat center in upstate New York’s Catskill Mountains this past April. This was something I had been hoping and planning for, for over a year. Even though I had every intention to take it easy the week before going—to plan and pack and rest— it didn’t turn out that way. Baseball season started for my two boys, our one car family status involuntarily continued, and my disillusioned self kept putting the laundry off.  

This all created a toxic environment for my decision-making: I slept little, ate poorly, barely got my yoga and exercise in, and thought of all the things that could possibly go wrong.  As well as entertaining the little whiny voices in my head that told me I was a failure and nobody would want to dance with me anyway (oh boo-hoo). So, yup— I got sick the Tuesday before my big-deal teaching gig. 

At first I inhaled peace and love and strength—and exhaled bad thoughts, negativity, and bad vibes. I cleaned up my diet, put back several ginger-garlic shots, slathered on turmeric paste for my fever blisters, slept for 3 days straight, and had my husband take over my domestic and kid duties (for my healing voodoo go here: Recipe page). Then FEAR set in on Thursday night. I didn’t think I would be well enough by Monday.  I called everyone I could think of to take my place— hoping one of them could spontaneously take a one-week vacation (yeah, right…that didn’t go over well). Nobody took me up on the offer. Sunday came around and I was good to go. 

Once I arrived at the retreat center I was flying high on endorphins and good vibrations from the place and the people. Vegan food and clean air surrounded me.  People spoke my 'We are all One' language (both verbal and dance-speak..thank you very much). I was in my element..and I hit my teaching zone. It was all pretty super-duper.

            Then BAM!!!

                          Weirdness came over me. Hit me upside my head.

Even though I was in this wonderful place filled with amazing spiritual people, TIME TO MYSELF, a stack of books that I was going to finally finish, a fresh new journal to start writing in, and a playlist of sick beats to listen to—I wanted none of it.

I had more 'alone time' than I'd had in over 15 years. A part of myself that was almost unrecognizable came out for a visit.  She couldn’t express in words what was ailing her. No matter how much I soothed, or patiently waited on her, no matter how many treats I gave her—or distractions—she just wouldn’t budge from the bad mood and melancholy. The tantrum lasted for a few days.

Shit came up. Feelings that I had suppressed and emotions I had neglected barred their soul.  Messy tears flowed.  The dam finally burst. My little girl came out and she didn’t try to explain everything away or check in with me for permission or validation.  She just showed up and I couldn’t silence her.  I put my head under the covers and screamed into my pillow so my housemates could have their peace.

After awhile—after I stopped trying to make all the weirdness and discombobulated-ness stop—I settled in. To really pay attention, and to really listen to one's soul when she rambles and curses her head off at you is hard F'ing work folks—just saying.  Here is what I got though: I was very lonely. I missed all my soul-sisters and my family, and all of my ‘hats’ that I adorn myself with on a daily basis. And that was all gone for the week. It created a ripe opportunity to get to know myself all over again.

It felt like seeing a loved one after years of being apart (well, more like a sibling you never settled a beef with). I would sit for long periods of time and try to figure out what I wanted to do, what I wanted to eat, what I wanted to read first- but I couldn’t figure it out. Talk about frustrating! I realized I had become so task and results-oriented.  I thought—come on, Joy…you- teach people to be present and in the moment…why can’t you handle this?  

By settling down and just staying with the pain--that had become a dull aching in my spirit, a calm knowing flowed over me like a gentle, warm river. I realized I was grieving. I had a deep Holy Grief for my own life.
I grieved the loss of what I thought my life was supposed to be by now.  I was angry and frustrated...I felt that I missed something in my equation of: if I do all this work here, here, and here;if I obey these rules and abandon those rules; if I can be just a little bit stronger in this area and relax with that situation; if I can hold my tongue here and let her go over there; if I accept this and let go of that—then I will get all these good results in my life and in such and such relationship. But it wasn’t happening.  Things were not working out as I had hoped or planned. The IF/THEN formula I had created wasn’t working! I didn’t even know I spent time in a laboratory creating the formulas in the first place!!!! My life philosophy was founded on ‘Letting Go, and Letting God(dess) do her ‘thang, for Pete’s sake!!. I thought I was past all that crap. I thought that I was beyond regret and ‘life-dream frustration’. But, NOPE… still there.  

I met the enemy and she was (a part of) me.  Now what?

So I did what any other JourneyDancer would do: I brought it to the floor.

I don’t know what the magic thought was, or when the exact break-through moment was.  We as humans have created a vast enterprise of formulas and solutions. We love to problem-solve. We have become masters and leaders in the sacred school of ‘Figuring Shit Out’.  We feel discouraged when we hit thought walls and feel powerful when we break through them. We feel empowered by knowing the WHY. The HOW. The WHEN. We feel disempowered by not knowing. 

But all I know is that on that Holy Dance Floor we sweat it out together—me and me—the ‘me’ of the life I had planned and the ‘me’ of the life that WAS.  

I surrendered to Not Having To Figure It All Out All Of The Time. I surrendered to allowing room for mystery. I let up the reins of my expectations.

I grew in compassion towards myself, towards others, and towards the realization that working for something does not always yield the desired result.  We still must go for it. We still must endeavor and dream and embark- but the dichotomy will be ever present. We will fail and we will succeed.  It is a duet between the two outcomes. We are our own best friend and we are our own worst enemy. 

We are all Holy Dancers on this Holy Dance Floor that is our life.  

And, it is indeed worth every drop of sweat.


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