Tag Archives: Dance

AWAKENING TO OUR AUTHENTICITY

“That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity.  So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.”  Meredith Monk

Merredith Monk's Dance

Photo by chncpa.org

I am sometimes shocked by the extent to which people will go in order to please others at the expense of destroying who they really are.  I watched an hour of the Academy Awards the other night and was absolutely shocked when I saw Kim Novak who was presenting an award.  I kept staring at her because I could not find one detail about her face that looked the way she used to look.  In addition, parts of her face looked frozen. 

kIM nOVAK The next day on Facebook, I saw a picture of Goldie Hawn and had the same reaction.  I stared for a long time and could see only hints of the face she used to have.  I’ve always thought of Goldie as being very genuine, more so than most Hollywood actresses, and I would never have dreamed she would do this to herself.

Aging Can Be Empowering

I understand the competition for roles in Hollywood is fierce, but the truth is that as I age I enjoy seeing actresses who have aged naturally.  I can relate to them more.  Judy Dench is a wonderful example.  She has wrinkles and gray hair, but this seems to work to her advantage because she is frequently cast in roles with depth that tap the wisdom of her years rather than focus on her appearance.  She has lived long enough to know how to go deeper, and I can always count on her performances to have substance.

Photo by wallpaperzoo.com

Photo by wallpaperzoo.com

Unfortunately, it isn’t just the entertainment industry that is obsessed with youth.  Most of the people who have plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes are women, but ten percent of the people in the United States who have plastic surgery are men.  We are so obsessed with appearance that many feel they need to look younger in order to succeed in their careers even when appearance has nothing to do with performance.

Changing Our Appearance to Gain Confidence Is Superficial

In researching this topic, I came across the story of a young woman who had plastic surgery to change her body shape to a sexier one and was delighted with the attention she received and how it enhanced her career opportunities.  All this positive attention from others made her more confident, but I wonder how long that confidence will last when she starts aging and drooping.  Will she simply turn to surgery again or will she realize it’s time to heal her insecurity.

Fear Is the Basis of All Insecurity

When we live authentically, we accept who we.  We accept our flat chests, large noses, big ears or gray hair.  We don’t let the external define us.  We want to change our appearance only if we feel we aren’t good enough or that we must please others in some way.  Hiding beneath those insecurities is the fear that we are inadequate or that we will be rejected, so the root of the problem is our fear, not our appearance.

When we allow these fears to persist, we may not say no when we need to, so we continue to live with dysfunctional relationships that only reinforce our fears.  We are more afraid of the unknown than we are of remaining miserable and hiding our true selves.  When we live in fear, we never know joy, for it comes from deep within and comes from a deep feeling of freedom, unfettered by concerns for what others think of us.  We never know peace because we are always looking around us to see if we have pleased another.

To Be Our True Selves, We Must Get In Touch With Our Core

Relying on anything external to define us is risky.  The core of our being lies deep within us, so that the only way to truly know ourselves is to “keep going down to the bone” where we will find the inner voice that will guide us through all life’s experiences.  We must be willing to let go of society’s expectations in order to discover what we want for our lives, and when it is different from what others want for us, we must have the courage to follow our inner guidance and let go of what will no longer serve us.

Authenticity Expresses What Is Unique About Us

One of the reasons I chose the quote by Meredith Monk is because I saw her perform in the 1970s.  It was clear from the moment her modern dance company began the performance that this would be unlike anything I had ever seen.  The dance was performed with the dancers singing, much like an opera.  She created a landscape of movement, sound, and lighting that was exceptional.  Clearly she expressed herself in an authentic way and she inspired me to do the same.

Meredith Monk

Photo by chncpa.org

What I produced wasn’t always so good; sometimes it was silly; sometimes it didn’t work.  But after seeing her work, I knew I had to experiment.  I had to have the courage to find out what I could do and that was a greater motivation than the fear of failing. It is difficult to have courage if our personas are not genuine.  In that case, our real selves are hidden beneath many layers that we must peel away.  As we let go of what is artificial about our lives, what is authentic will emerge.  As we face our fears and release them, knowing we are strong enough to survive whatever change occurs, what and who we no longer need will drop away, and our real selves will emerge.

Being Authentic Gives Us Freedom

This is why having a meditation or contemplative practice is so important.  These practices clear away the mental debris so that we can hear the inner voice that will guide us.  Until we become who we truly are, we may not even see the true gifts life has given us because they do not fit into the inauthentic life we created, but these may be gifts the world deeply needs.  Finding love and joy and the freedom to express ourselves is a gift, not only to ourselves, but to the other people as well, and we can only do that when we are authentic. © 2014 Georganne Spruce                                 ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension (video), What Being Authentic Means…And What Gets in the Way, Becoming More Authentic: Accept Yourself and Stop Seeking Approval

AWAKENING TO BE THE ARTIST OF YOUR LIFE

“What do we do with chaos?

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“Creativity has an answer.  We are told by those who have studied the processes of nature that creativity happens at the border between chaos and order.  Chaos is a prelude to creativity.  We need to learn, as every artist needs to learn, to live with chaos and indeed to dance with it and attempt some ordering.  Artists wrestle with chaos, take it apart, deconstruct and reconstruct from it.  Accept the challenge to convert chaos into some kind of order, respecting the timing of it all, not pushing beyond what is possible—combining holy patience with holy impatience—that is the role of the artist.  It is each of our roles as we launch the twenty-first century because we are all called to be artists in our own way.  We are all artists as children.  We need to study the chaos around us in order to turn it into something beautiful.  Something sustainable.  Something that remains.”  Matthew Fox, Creativity

Creation Spirituality

Last week, I was privileged to hear Matthew Fox speak at a spiritual gathering.  He is a powerful speaker and leader, and his philosophy of Creation Spirituality is the basis for the spiritual community to which I belong.  Creation Spirituality is the belief that all creation is Original Blessing, and it integrates the wisdom of Eastern and Western spirituality with current scientific understanding and the passion of creativity.

Cover of "Creativity"

Cover of Creativity

We Must Be Creative To Solve Problems

To those who do not see themselves as creative, Fox’s quote may seem abstract, but as one who has participated in all the fine arts and for a time was a professional modern dancer, I know exactly what he means.  In fact, as surprising as it may seem, my studies of dance, theater, voice, and art have all taught me how to create a better life for myself because they taught me how to keep my mind open and how to create order from chaos.

In life as in art, we are continually faced with making decisions.  Using our rational mind to make these decisions is one approach, but we also have a right brain, as well as a left brain, that can lead us down many paths to solve each problem.  We are most likely to find a good, workable solution to the problems that confront us when we are willing to consider more than one possibility.

We Must Experiment to Create Order Out of Chaos

As a choreographer, I learned to experiment—try this movement and that.  I would develop a theme and then create variations to make the dance more interesting while allowing the basic theme to give it unity.  When this approach didn’t work, I threw out the movement that didn’t look good and explored how I could use another movement to express my idea.  Once in a while, I would choreograph a large portion of a dance and have to face the fact that it just didn’t work.  It didn’t communicate what I wanted, or it wasn’t interesting enough, or it just didn’t flow and I would have to throw out the whole thing.

And at times, I would just have to wait.  I could feel the solution to the problem simmering in the back of my mind.  Then, in a dream or while I was vacuuming or reading a book, suddenly the image would appear—a rhythmic pattern, a series of movements, a costume or concept—and  reveal to me the missing piece I needed to complete the dance.

Life often feels like this to me.  A problem arises and I don’t know how to solve it.  I research, talk to people I know and hopefully what I need to do becomes clear.  But at times, my daily life feels like chaos and no answers appear.  When it begins to feel out of control, I have to stop.  I remember that the answers to my questions cannot appear if I’m not listening with the “holy patience” that Fox refers to.

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Answers May Be Found When We Are Quiet

So, I go within to meditate or step into the natural world and let the playful squirrels or singing birds remind me I am a part of something more than the chaos that wears me down.  When I’m calm, I am better able to discern what I need to do.  It may be nothing or I may need to deal with the chaos by setting up a schedule and prioritizing what I need to do.  Using my creativity, I dance on that edge between chaos and order.

We are the artists of our own lives, and we have many choices about how to create order out of our chaos.  But the most important thing is for us to believe that we can.  We can only change the world if we believe we can change our own lives, and if we believe that, we will find the way to do it.  Because each time we succeed in creating order out of chaos, we inspire ourselves and those who observe our actions, who perhaps will be inspired to change their lives.

Our Lives are Sacred

Perhaps this is what Fox meant in his talk when he said, “If we have a sense of the sacred, we can change things.”  We do not have to do it alone.  In those quiet moments, even in the midst of chaos, we are in touch with Spirit.  We are reminded that we are sacred, our lives are sacred, and the earth is sacred.  We live in a creative Universe, and as we create our lives, let us remember we are each artists who can create order out of the chaos of our world.  No one else can do this for us.

How are you the artist of your life?  Please comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles: Matthew Fox – Creation Spirituality (video), How to Create a Balanced Life:  How to Feel Calm and Grounded, Everyone Is Invited to This Dance, Creativity

DANCING ON THE SUMMIT

“Each and every master, regardless of the era or place, heard the call and attained harmony with heaven and earth.  There are many paths leading to the top of Mt. Fuji, but there is only one summit – love.”  Morihei Ueshiba

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What is the pinnacle of your success?  How do you know when you have reached the summit of your journey?  Was it what you expected it to be?

Last weekend, a friend and I drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the autumn colors at their peak.  With trees covering the roadway much of the way, we traveled through a tunnel that at times glowed with the yellow of tulip poplar and the bronze of beech.  At another turn in the road, the light was transformed by the red of maples and sourwood.  Like crystal sparkling, the light played through leaves and branches luring us into another world inhabited only by nature.

Our Expectations May Lead to Disappointment

We were seduced by its beauty into believing that, at our destination, the colors would be at perfect peak.  When we arrived at Craggy Gardens, the mountains were, for the most part, a lovely array of the usual red, orange, and yellow that we expected, but not as intense as I had seen them in the past, and on some hillsides the trees were already stripped of their leaves.  It was beautiful—just not as brilliant as I had hoped.  I was disappointed.

We hiked up the side of the mountain to 5,500 feet to a bald, a treeless area at the summit where there is only low-growing vegetation.  At other times of the year, blueberries and rhododendron grow there, but at this time of year there is little colorful vegetation and the grass is mostly brown; however if one looked beyond what was in the immediate foreground, a beautiful and breath-taking vista opened.

A Higher Perspective May Open Our Minds to the Beauty of Life

The sky was clear and intensely blue with wisps of cirrus clouds streaming over the mountains.  Meandering streams and roadways danced through the hills, creating a patch work of light, shadow and color.  Beyond the bald, where most of nature was sleeping, we looked out on a vibrant world.  When we focused on the broader perspective from this higher place, we saw beauty, not desolation, and above our heads, silhouetted against the blue sky, were the bright red berries of a mountain ash.

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In life, as in nature, we experience the beautiful with the mundane or disappointing.  Even when we reach the summit of our careers and live out our greatest dreams, they may not be what we expected.  In my twenties I thought that my life would be perfect if I could only dance with a modern dance company.  I felt I had reached the pinnacle of my success when, finally, that dream came true.

It was a beautiful and inspiring experience, but I experienced a great deal of physical pain and had far more stage fright than I’d ever had acting.  The physical aspect of performing was a great disappointment, but from a spiritual and higher perspective, it was very rewarding.  At times, dancing was transcendent, and as I taught and choreographed more, I realized it was not the performing I loved most—it was the teaching and making dances.

With time, I became more whole and able to see how the mind and body interacted.  This broadened what I could teach others and helped me to improve my health.  When I let go of my ego’s need to be a performer, I was able to see the value of dance from a higher perspective.

Nature May Remind Us That We Are All One

When my friend and I were hiking, we also went to Craggy Pinnacle, the highest spot in the area where we could see those magnificent mountains from a 360 degree view.  There was something about standing in such place that allowed all expectations and focus on self to drop away.  We were one with the world that surrounded us.  From that place, there were no piles of trash or run down houses or torn up roadways or contentious neighbors.  All the details blended with the beauty of nature.

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In those moments at the top of the mountain, I forgot about the hillsides that were bare or that the red leaves weren’t as red this year as before.  I forgot about the aching toe I’d stubbed on the way up or the hours of raking leaves ahead of me as the leaves blanketed my yard.  I no longer mattered, for I was not separate from the beauty around me.

Love Opens Us to the Dance of Life

When we can view life from the summit, from a spiritual perspective, we are able to see the wholeness of a situation and love what is there.  While my pursuit of dance was originally very ego based, as my mind opened, it became not only a spiritually-enlivening experience, but one that led me to share insights with others so that they could be helped by what I had learned.  Reaching the pinnacle was really only the beginning of a life-long journey of learning to love my whole self and others and to discover there is so much more to the dance of life.

If you want to learn more about my journey, my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness is available at Amazon and Create Space.

Have you reached the pinnacle in some area of your life?  What did you learn from it?  Please share your thoughts.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  (video) Akido – Way of Harmony, The Spiritual Inspiration of Nature, Nature Mysticism, Photo Nature Blog

AWAKENING TO THE SACRED DANCE

“Something opens our wings.  Something makes boredom and hurt disappear.  Someone fills the cup in front of us.  We taste only sacredness.”  Rumi

Sergey Yeliseev

Photographer: Sergey Yeliseev

What is sacred to you?  How important is it in your life?  What role does it play in helping you deal with challenges in life?

Accessing the Sacred Through Creativity

I begin to write a poem inspired by a thought created by something I see in nature or one that comes to me through Spirit.  I start writing, letting the thoughts and images flow without editing until they stop.  There is no rational thought here.  It feels like the words come from a sacred place filling the empty page, and if I am writing about nature, a tree or an animal, it feels as if I become one with it.

Any creation is sacred.  When I am creating, it doesn’t matter what is happening in my life.  The conflicts, aches, frustrations all drop away and I am floating in a clear sky, peaceful and full of potential.  Opening my wings, I open my mind.

THE RAVEN’S DANCE

by

Georganne Spruce

The breath of the wind

Rustling through the maples

Touches my cheek gently,

And I become the Raven

Coasting on an updraft.

Wings touching the clouds,

I bend backwards and stretch

Upon the cool fresh grass,

My wings becoming

Arms again.

The crickets sing in my ear,

Their chorus of ancient rhythms

Inspire me and I dance

On the breath of life

As I have never danced.

Like the cave artist, I draw

My ecstatic dance through space

Singing with the crickets,

Dancing on the earth

Where fires will glow at night

Welcoming sages.

I will dance for them

My truths,

I will dance for them

My joy,

I will dance for them

The Raven’s dance,

Wings flying through eternity,

Littering holy messages

At their feet,

I will dance life,

I will dance life,

I …will…dance…LIFE!

Finding Peace At Our Centers

But when our wings don’t open, and the boredom and hurt don’t disappear, and no one fills the cup, what can we do?  This morning I had to balance my chakras before I could do anything.  The challenges of mundane life became a burden this week, and every attempt I made to move forward was blocked.  I’ve felt emotionally exhausted from not being able to complete the changes I needed to make and finally realized I was neglecting my spiritual self, and that was what was creating the problem.  When I am centered, the challenges do not become burdens.

English: A dancer of Sri Devi Nrithyalaya perf...

English: A dancer of Sri Devi Nrithyalaya performing one of the Karanas (key poses) of Natya Yoga. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Releasing the Ego’s Concerns

Often, stepping into the spiritual realm by doing meditation, affirmations, yoga or chakra balancing will take us to a place where we can let go of our ego and emotional attachments to the things that burden us.  When we have released the attachment, we can often see the situation more objectively and open our minds to solutions we haven’t considered.  But most importantly, it reminds us that there is more to us than our physical lives.

Connect With Spirit Through Nature

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For me, connection with nature has a calming influence and reminds me I am connected to all living beings and that awareness expands my energy.  The sound of flowing water, the soaring bird, the playful squirrel all remind me of the beauty inherent in all of us and that we are all One, connected by the energy of Spirit and that there is a peace beneath the surface chaos.

Art May Take Us Deeper

But words, music, art, or dance may also take us to a deeper level and bathe our soul in peace or joy.  Athletes often speak of being in the flow.  Regardless of the activity, when we experience the Oneness of that flow or connect on the heart level to a piece of music, art, or poetry, we are in a sacred space and become a part of the dance of life.  We are uplifted in the deepest sense and strengthened by our connection to the sacred.

How do you experience the sacred in your life?  Please Comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  9 Practical and Spiritual Tips for Letting Go of Unhealthy Attachments, Eckhart Tolle – Acceptance and Surrender, 5 Ways to Find Your Center When Life Feels Overwhelming

AWAKENING TO TRANSITIONS

“Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”  Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

How do you feel about transitions?  Does the uncertainty about the future disturb you or fill you with anticipation?  

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Autumn slipped in when I wasn’t looking.  Suddenly there was a tree along the highway that had turned red and yellow and began dropping leaves when all the other trees remained green and lush.  Soon a few older brown leaves that had clung to the oaks all summer began to fall, and some of the grass in the yard started dying.

Life May Grow Out of Endings

On the other hand, the side of the yard that was recently dug up to replace a drainage pipe has been reseeded and underneath the straw is  growing new grass, an interesting contrast to harvest time.  These contrasts in nature are a reminder that, we may find life where there seems to be death and death where we thought there was life.

As soon as I graduated from college, I married, and two years later, my husband came home and announced he did not want to be married any longer.  I was utterly shocked.  The thought of losing him felt like death.  As it turned out, he didn’t leave then, and we managed to keep the marriage together for another eight years of turmoil.  When it finally ended, it still felt like death.

But out of that death, I found a new lifeone in which I learned how to take care of myself so that I could make decisions from a position of confidence and choose to pursue an independent life.  As I felt more empowered, I no longer felt desperate to find another husband.  I was creating a life I liked and would only consider relationships with people who respected who I really was.

An Ending May Lead To A More Spiritual Life

Because of the economic changes in our society, many people have had to give up the life they led and adapt to a less extravagant way of living.  Others, who lived moderately, have had to pare down to the absolute essentials.  It is not easy to let go of what we considered the comforts of life, but it can lead us to something else of value.

When we can spend less money on things, perhaps we will spend more time with loved ones and also have the time to look within and develop our spiritual lives.  When we have nothing to lose, we may find the courage to follow our passions:  create art, open a restaurant, teach in a foreign country or become a hospice volunteer.  Endings can be the beginnings of a new life.

Years ago, when I taught drama in New Mexico, my students wrote a play “The End Is the Beginning.”  It was about some teens who made harmful decisions like getting pregnant and being involved with drugs, but in the end, they realized they had to change, and each chose to create a positive life.  I hope their characters were role models.

Transitions Are Rites Of Passage

Resisting the changes we can’t control is futile.  Finding a pleasure in the new will always make the transition easier.  Often the transition is a rite of passage following a major change that forces us to shift how we think about our lives.  When I had to stop teaching modern dance because of knee problems, I realized that far too much of my identity was bound up in being a dancer.  It took time for me to accept that my real identity had little to do with the specific thing I did.

A photo of the sculpture "Dancer and the ...

A photo of the sculpture “Dancer and the dance” by John Safer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This transition was not easy.  I felt like a ship adrift at sea. Over time, I began to see that creativity was a large part of who I was and that I was creative in many areas of my life: decorating my apartment, handling my finances, teaching English, and solving life’s problems.

My creativity was not limited to dance, and as I explored my creative nature, I looked deeper into the source of my creativity, realizing it was connected to my spiritual core.

It was then that I began to explore how to grow spiritually by reading, studying new philosophies and spiritual practices that would allow me to change in the ways I wanted to change.  What had once felt like the death of a part of me became a passage through which I found a richer life.  I would always be grateful I was a dancer, but it no longer defined me.

Spirit Is Always There To Guide Us

Transitions often frighten us because we can’t yet see what will replace what we have lost, but we have to learn to trust ourselves and know that we will be guided in the right direction.  When we have a spiritual life, we know that there is guidance beyond what is apparent on this earthly plane.  We can go within, release our fear, and allow Spirit to guide us to the next step.  Every change in life is an opportunity to expand and that is why we are here.

How has a transition led to a positive change in your life?  Please comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                          ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Transitions and Changes:  Practical Strategies, How Endings Make Room for Beginnings, How to Make the Most of Your Life Transitions

AWAKENING TO THE HEALING DANCE

Many healing issues have arisen in my life lately, so I intended to write about healing today.  I know several people dealing with cancer and others dealing with emotional issues.  But when I looked at a series I wrote on this topic last year, I realized I would just repeat what I’d already said.  So, I’m reblogging the posts that seem most relevant.  I hope they will be helpful.  Namaste. 

“The wound is the place where the light enters you.”      Rumi

How tall are the walls you build around yourself? Why do you need so much protection? What will it take to heal your wounds?

It was freezing last night and my bedroom was still cold when I awoke. All I wanted to do was snuggle further into bed, hide out in my pleasant dreams and the warmth.  But after briefly indulging my desires, I climbed out of bed, and walking into the center of my house, I was warmed by the brilliant, morning light spilling through the windows.

When life is rough, it is natural to want to hide out, build protective walls, and ignore the source of our pain; yet, if we do that for too long, it can become a dark cave from which we may never emerge.  We learn to lie brilliantly to ourselves.  We evade capture.  And we become hard and defensive around the edges, so that the one thing that can heal us is unable to penetrate.  Even the light needs a chink to pass through.

Wounds Are Valuable Assets

How do you deal with your most painful wounds? Do you build walls to protect yourself or do you see the pain as a sign something needs to be healed?  Our wounds are some of our most valuable assets.  They are the portals through which we can heal the pain that stops us from living our lives fully.  We have to learn to dance with them in the dark so that we can dance with them in the light.

Have you ever had the experience that, when a small conflict arises, you suddenly explode or react in some way that is inappropriate to the situation?  This is always a sign that a deeper issue has been triggered.  It is usually a sign that, deep within us, there are unhealed, deep wounds struggling to reach the light. So, what can we do to heal these wounds?

How To Heal Your Emotional Wounds

Being present is the key.  Has this happened before?  When did it begin?  What was the source of the original pain? There is always fear present with emotional pain, so I try to identify my pain so I can focus on it.  Am I afraid I’m not loved?  Am I afraid of losing someone or something I value?  Am I afraid of being harmed?  Regardless of how you identify the fear or don’t, the first step is to release it.

Releasing Your Fear

I take a deep breath, and as I exhale, I feel and/or visualize this fear leaving my body.  I repeat this process until I do feel the fear released, then sit a moment with the peaceful quiet that appears after the release.  Without the fear blocking my mind, I ask that this emotional pain be healed permanently, knowing that my wish will be granted.

Being Patient With the Process

The next step requires the most patience.  The pain may be healed immediately.  More than likely, though, I will be drawn to those experiences that will guide me through healing myself, and that is very empowering.  Healing may come in many forms:  a book, a person, a workshop, or technique.  Over the years, I have found valuable guidance for healing in therapy, spiritual practices, support groups, healing techniques like Emotional Freedom Technique, affirmations, numerology, astrology, Medicine Wheel cards, and simple conversations with friends. If I’m drawn to it, I dance with it, and in dancing with it, I may be healed.

How Did You Help Create This Wound

This deep pain is the kind we don’t want to return, so it is also wise to become aware of the role we played in creating the pain. The answers are always within us. That is why it is important to be receptive, but not passive.  We need to ask, “What did I do to help trigger this?  What was my role?”  Unless we can see the patterns in our behavior, we will repeat them.  It is in this step of the healing process that therapy is most valuable.  Therapists cannot change you, but they can help you understand your behavior and others.  Only you can make the change once you understand what you need to do.  Awareness is the key.

It is not always possible to identify our role in creating the pain, for sometimes it is the result of karma from past lives or that we are in a situation in order to learn a lesson.  Still, as frightening as it is, we must be willing to be vulnerable—to let the light shine through our journey to understand how to dance the healing dance, the one that we choreograph for our own healing.  Love the wound, then let it go.

What techniques have worked well for you in healing emotional pain? Please comment.

© 2012 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles: Eckhart Tolle – Dealing with Pain (video)Shift Your EmotionsBeing Present – Healing the Past

AWAKENING TO GOOD HEALTH

“To enjoy true health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind.  If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will come to him.”  Buddha

English: Holistic health, body, mind, heart, soul

I wanted to write today about the connection between body and mind and good health, but when I read back over a previous post, “Body and Soul As One,” I decided to repost it because, at the moment, I feel it says everything I want to say.  When we love ourselves, we take care of all parts of ourselves:  body, mind and soul.  And when we are ill, we need to take care of the mind, body, and soul.  Even science is now proving this connection exists.

The Body As Container For The Soul

One of the problems I’ve often had with traditional religion is the way it describes the body as a lesser part of our being.  The body is, after all, the container for our soul.  If we didn’t need it in some cosmic sense, we wouldn’t have it.  At this stage in our spiritual journey, we are experiencing a physical life because we need to learn lessons we can only learn by being in a physical body.

If we embrace the idea of wholeness or oneness, then we have to acknowledge that all parts of ourselves are sacred.  Living in a body offers us infinite opportunities to learn.  As a child, I had many illnesses including one that left me with a heart murmur which I out grew by the time I was twelve.  I missed those early carefree years of life that others remember with joy.  What I remember is lying in bed alone reading and designing paper doll dresses, feeling weak and shy and inadequate when we played softball at school and never learning to ride a bicycle.  I remember having a friend or two but never feeling part of a group because so many group activities were too strenuous.

 Awakening The Body And Soul

As a result of this childhood experience, I developed two interests: good health and creativity which I later developed through dance and writing.  Staying healthy became a priority in my life.  As a young adult I began to search for the answers that would allow me to become stronger and stay in good health My love of dance was not just about expressing myself creatively.  It was about building muscles on my skinny frame to become strong.  It was also about the mind/body connection.  Having rejected traditional religion by this time, I found that dancing brought me joy and touched my spirit.  At times, dancing was transcendent, my body seemed to fall away and I was all spirit.

Each physical challenge has been a teacher.  Around 1976, I studied with an amazing dancer, Erick Hawkins during a summer dance program at American University.  Having studied Eastern philosophy and anatomy and kinesiology, he had created a modern dance technique that trained the body gently, working with the pelvis as the center of the body, and teaching us to respect our own bodies.

Hawkins in El Penitente, 1930s

Hawkins in El Penitente, 1930s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But that summer, I was in distress, and despite Hawkins’ peaceful way, I made a decision I would regret.  I injured one foot simply walking across campus, adding more pain to the tendinitis slowly healing in the other foot.  I was in a dance company and had a performance coming up.  We were short on dancers; I couldn’t disappoint the director.  So, I demanded that my doctor give me cortisone shots which he did, going against his own better judgment.

When I danced, my feet were numb; I couldn’t feel the floor, but somehow I got through the performance.  Afterwards, as I rested and healed over several weeks, I realized I had committed a terrible act of aggression against myself.  I’d somehow crossed a line I’d never crossed before and was willing to abuse myself in order not to disappoint others. This was clearly a signal that something was very wrong with my thinking.  I realized at that moment that I couldn’t stop thinking about the reverence with which Hawkins treated the body even in training.  As I thought about Hawkins and the reverence he had taught us to have for our own bodies, I realized he had been my spiritual teacher that summer.

 Loving Ourselves With Good Health

This experience made me realize that I needed to learn to love myself.  I had created unnecessary suffering and my soul ached. Dance taught me about one aspect of taking care of my body, but other experiences taught me about a healthy diet.  When I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I found a doctor of integrated medicine who taught me how to use food and supplements to heal. What I learned from him has continued to serve me well over the years to support my immune system, keep my blood sugar level, and sustain a level of energy that creates a feeling of well-being.

It is difficult to enjoy life when we don’t feel well, and while it is important to take care of our minds and soul, taking care of the body is sacred work too.  To deny the body’s needs is just as detrimental to our well-being as ignoring our spiritual or emotional needs.  Although I am middle aged, I’m actually healthier than I’ve ever been, and I believe that is because, in addition to taking care of my spiritual life, I have cared for my body, this precious container for my precious soul.

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 Do you want life to be a dance or a drag?

We have a choice and it’s an important one.  Caring for our bodies makes it possible to do things that feed the soul like walking in the forest, dancing until dawn or jogging through the early morning air with your daughter.  What are you willing to do to make your body and soul one?

© 2011 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  Erick Hawkins, Dancing to Our Imperfections, The Mind Body Connection –  Health is a State of MindMind Body Connection: How Your Emotions Affect Your Health

AWAKENING TO COMMUNITY

Writer's Stop

Writer’s Stop (Photo credit: Stephh922)

“Some people think they are in community, but they are only in proximity.  True community requires commitment and openness.  It is a willingness to extend yourself to encounter and know the other.”  David Spangler

Are you part of a community, personally or professionally?  What does it offer you that you value?

My blog post today is a bit different.  Recently, Brad Swift, a member of my writing community, tagged me for a blog tour, The Next Big Thing—my very first!  The way it works is that a writer answers questions about her/his next book (or one recently published), tags five other writers and passes it on.  The next week those writers do the same thing, so it’s a great way for writers to connect with a larger audience.

I love this idea because it’s about community.  As I’ve often written, one of the major world shifts we need to make is from competition to community.  That’s why I’m grateful to be living in a town where writers are a community and the writers I’ve tagged below are a part of that.  We’re here to support and help each other so that we are all successful.  It’s a great way to live, so check out these special people at the bottom of my answers.

What is the title of your latest book?  Awakening to the Dance:  A  Journey to Wholeness which I published in June 2012.  

Where did the idea come from for the book?  I never planned to write a memoir, but ten years ago when I was out of work and had reached a point with a novel that I couldn’t get past, a woman suggested to me that I’d lived an interesting life in an interesting time and should write about it.  Desperately needing a new project, I began reading my journals from the 1960’s to the present.  As I began writing, the process of exploring my past was spiritually transforming and became part of the story.

What genre does your book fall under?  It’s a memoir.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?  I’d love for Kiera Knightley to play me.  Kevin Costner would be perfect for Neal.  Judy Dench would be perfect for my mother.  Of course the book spans about 40 years, but I’ll let the director solve that problem.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness is the inspirational story of a woman’s search for her true identity apart from society’s expectations, her commitment to following her passions of dance and writing, her desire to find a soul mate, and the gift she receives by integrating spirituality into her life.

Was your book self-published or represented by an agency?  I published the ebook through  Kindle and Pubit and the paperback through Create Space.  It’s available on all three and on Amazon.com.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?  I took almost ten years to write the book.  I was teaching full-time, and I have no idea how long it took to complete the first draft.  I probably spent at least two years just picking and choosing the most important stories.  Then I had to pare those down and focus the story more on the main theme.  I did extensive rewriting for several years because the book was originally too long.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Every story is unique, but my guess is that any memoir written by a woman who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s would have similar themes.  It’s not about abuse or alcohol and drug addictions as many memoirs are. Of course, part of it could be called a “dance memoir” but even that part focuses on how dance increased my mind/body connection and contributed to my spiritual awareness that we are all One.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  I realized that I had used many practices, such as meditation, affirmations, chakra balancing, and releasing my fear, that dramatically changed my life for the better.  When I was younger, I had no idea it was possible to live mostly free from fear, so I wanted to inspire others so that they could create the lives they desire and be free from fear.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?  During the 1960s and 1970s when I was a modern dancer, the entire art world was experimental, breaking all the old rules and supporting authentic expression.  It was a fascinating time.

In everyday life, men and women were struggling with the male and female stereotypes that no longer served us.

The book also has a strong love theme. I write about several major relationships with men all of whom were very powerful forces in my life.  In one way or another, each helped me grow and explore the nature of love.  But loving oneself and spiritual love are also themes that run throughout my story.

Please take a look at these fascinating writer friends:

Debra LloydTrey CarlandJohn Waterman ,Celia Miles

What does your community mean to you?  Please comment.

 ©2012 Georganne Spruce                                                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

AWAKENING TO BE SPECIAL

“How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being.”  Oscar Wilde

What do you strive to be:  a “normal” human being or someone special?  Have you started developing your special talent or are you waiting for someone to tell you you’re capable?

We Need To Feel Special

We all want to be special to someone, don’t we?  While I may laugh at Oscar Wilde’s comment about women, I have to admit that in a relationship with a man, I want to be important and special to him.  I think most women feel this way.  We want to be “the One.”

In our families, we want to know that we are valued by our parents and siblings.  We all need to feel important to someone, but the truth is that no matter how many people think we are special, unless we think we are, we won’t experience that we are special.

Children Need To Be Encouraged To Develop Their Talents

Ultimately, we have to see and respect our own specialness and see that it’s a good thing.  As a child I was very creative.  I designed my own paper doll clothes and wrote stories.  At about thirteen, I wanted to be a dress designer, but my mother discouraged me because that would be too competitive.  At fourteen when I took an art class at school, my teacher characterized my latest drawing of a phoenix amid crumbling and fiery Greek columns as unusual (weird, in other words).  I got the message: art wasn’t my thing.

Fortunately, my mother encouraged me to become involved with drama which I enjoyed and which led me to become a modern dancer.  But no matter what I did creatively, in my family it was more important to be practical.  It was okay to have fun with these creative things, but not to take them too seriously despite the fact that my parents had artistic talent.  What mattered was making money, not following your passion.

Don’t Wait For Other People’s Approval

Eventually, I gave up trying to gain their approval and just followed my own path.  Even if others couldn’t see it, I knew how much work and courage it took for me to become a dancer.  I knew I was special even if others didn’t.  I knew in the overall scheme of things I wasn’t a great dancer, but it didn’t matter.  It made me happy.

You see, my ex-husband saw me as an ordinary person.  He thought my dancing was a childish pursuit I would eventually tire of.  My hard work and accomplishment meant nothing to him because again, practicality was all he valued.  It hurt to finally understand how “unspecial” I was to him.  But I learned a valuable lesson.

We Are Each On A Special Journey

We are each special and unique in our own ways.  Our most precious quality may be something no one else can see, but we know about it and must honor ourselves.  To expect the world to see how special we are may not be realistic.  All we can do is express who we are, and if we are true to that, we will eventually draw to us the people who do appreciate who we really are.

This week two people who are reading my spiritual memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness told me that they couldn’t put it down.  One man read it in three days.  It’s nice to know that all the hard work I put into the book is paying off because the point to writing is to move and entertain people.   But it would never have happened if I hadn’t believed I was special enough to do it.  Do you know how special you are?

What gifts have you not developed because you are waiting for someone else to tell you that you are good enough?  Why not take the first step today?  Let me know how it goes.  Namaste.

©2012 Georganne Spruce                                                  ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Wayne Dyer Talks About Being Yourself (video), The Path to Unconditional Acceptance, Our Talents Are Our Gifts – Use Them Well

DANCING TO YOUR OWN CREATION

“Mind is like the wood or stone from which a person carves an image.  If he carves a tiger or dragon, and seeing it fears it, he is like a stupid person creating a picture of hell and then afraid to face it.  If he does not fear it, then his unnecessary thoughts will vanish.  Part of the mind produces sight, sound, taste, odor and sensibility, and from them raises greed, anger and ignorance with all their accompanying likes and dislikes.”  Bodhidharma

 

Responding to Change

How much responsibility are you willing to take for what happens in your life?  Are you creating your life or do you always defer to the ones around you?  What guides your choices?

This has been a very wet year where I live, and I am grateful I don’t live in the drought-ridden part of the country.  As a result of the dampness, a large number of large mushrooms have sprung up in my front yard which is very shady most of the day.  One of them was huge, eight inches across, and several others of two varieties were almost as large.  I’d never seen these before and had no idea if either the squirrels or I could eat them, but I don’t know mushrooms, so I thought it wiser to just admire them.  The squirrels weren’t interested either.

The appearance of the mushrooms, which I think are lovely in their own way, is just one example of how conditions to which we are accustomed may change and surprise us with their uniqueness or beauty.  But change can also be disconcerting, and how we experience it depends on what we think about the change.  We create our perception of what is occurring.  Instead of being afraid that poisonous mushrooms were appearing in my yard, I chose to appreciate their beauty and the opportunity to learn about something new.

Being in Charge of Your Own Thoughts

So many things influence how we think:  our social environment, religious or spiritual beliefs, family or cultural codes of behavior, and past experience.  In some way, we have all been programmed that certain things are good and others are bad.  But as we become adults, we have the opportunity to reprogram our minds.  We can make the decision to be the one who is in charge.

In order to truly be in charge of our lives, we must choose to be in charge of our thinking, for our thinking creates our emotions and together they determine what we create.  The quote from Bohdidharma makes this very clear.  You create what is in your mind and have a choice to hold on to that thought or to release it.  The question you must answer is:  What is the best for you or others affected by your decision?

Release the Resistance Fear Creates

Often we feel fear in our response to something new in our lives.  Will that new boss value the work we do?  Will a parent’s death destroy the family togetherness?  Will marriage take away our independence or bring us more love?  It is always best to release the psychological fears we have before we make a decision.  Fear creates resistance and blocks our ability to see what is best for us.

So, when that tiger or dragon first appears in our thoughts, we need to center ourselves, find that place of quiet in our hearts, and say to our minds, “Release this fear.”  Name it if you can, breathe deeply, and let it go.  These psychological fears have no value for us.  Repeat this gently until the negative image you have created releases.  It is yours to reject.  Then, in the quiet, ask Spirit or the Universe to fill your need and be willing to wait, knowing that what you need will appear, if not then, later when the time is right.

Releasing Your Fear Workshop

This process for releasing fear is what I teach each year in a workshop, “Releasing Your Fear.”  In the workshop, we delve more deeply into the mind and how it works and how to practice this technique so that it is truly useful to you.  If you want to learn more about the September 9 workshop, click here.

Creating Your Joyful Dance of Life

Dancing to our own creation means that we choose to be the choreographer of our dance of life.  We can choose the steps we like best, improvise until the right phrase appears, and practice what flows best until the dance that truly brings us joy appears out of our own creative mental process.  It is not some creator out there who is in charge of our dance, we are.

When we get stuck, instead of creating tigers and dragons, we can envision the positive outcome we want and take the steps to go there.  If one step doesn’t work, we can try another, and eventually the right one shows up. We only have to have the courage to release our fear of what is new, unfamiliar and unknown, focus on what we truly want, and believe we are capable of creating it.

© 2012 Georganne Spruce                                                            ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: The Answers Are WithinLaw of Attraction Journals, Abraham: Accept What I’m Feeling (video), Abraham Hicks: Thoughts (video)