‘The Dancing Freedom massive’ blew open the yurt doors last week with a final juicy dance to globally blast the love activism vibes out there. I am hugely grateful for the graceful part we all played in supporting each other’s inner journeys. The ritual of dancing daily with the group lit up small and great jewels of soulful growth. Like the phoenix rising! Dancing is definitely my preferred sway (!) of self enquiry and gee whizz i’m glad to know that!!
Some of us returned to our homes in Australia, Switzerland, England and the rest of the states. One brit here chose to take a bit more time to explore California and all its treasures. – Glad i did. Sarah and I (we formed a bond on this trip that I could write a whole story about)left in her car to drive south via Mount Shasta, famed for it’s strong lay lines and on the theme again of every thing feeling bigger in the States, Mount Shasta felt like a enormous version of Glastonbury Tor. We also stopped over at Harbin Hot Springs to soak our muscles in their hot natural baths.
At the springs we got naked (as were 99.9 %) and I burnt my bum sunbathing in the afternoon sun – typical Brit abroad! Then onwards to San Francisco for a big Metropolistic slap round the face. I rented a car and drove through the city – Oh my gawd i live to tell the tale!! Having not taken the obligatory rule of stoping at a Stop sign and jumping the queue to move, I heard the word ‘bitch’ spat my way, and felt like i was in a game of Grand Theft Auto! English friend Charlie – the legend of all legends – was there again to see me off on part 3 of my adventure – Driving down Highway 1 to Eselen http://www.eseleninstitute.com, Big Sur.
A little synopsis of the training before i talk about my onward adventures. And to note i am going to use the american english ‘like’ and ‘get’ a lot because it makes me feel rebellious to my english teacher Mrs Beecham at secondary school!
During and post training i feel like i’ve reclaimed parts of myself through dancing daily. I now feel confident about embodying the following: the inner sex goddess feeling her curves and her feminine feline sway, the shy little girl happy to be shy on the side of the dance floor, brushing her hair with her fingers and the graceful and grounded woman surrendering to delicious moments of contact dance – thanks Owlswan.
In the dance, the more my little girl was able to be tender, the more my bad-ass raging African mumma lady stomped her feet on the earth, unashamedly claiming her space and her child’s space, feeling wild and unfettered. To quote Hayley who I met at Eselen www.hayleyyogameditation.com, both of us yoga teachers discussing what yoga, dance and Somatics means to us, ‘here’s the moment, how do I respond’, she said. I asked her if I could borrow her words to sum up how i value embodying life/present moment – being curious, being brave, laughing alone or together and en-JOY-ing. Dancing the Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether, moving in a beautiful yurt, to an emotive and funky playlist with time to reflect and share, grounded my faith in dancing as a practice alone and in a group. It’s a therapeutic practice that unifies the body, mind and soul in a really fun way.
With freeform facilitated dance there’s no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ dance and you don’t have to have a particular style of dancing either. At the start of my journey I experienced moments of letting go amongst momentss of the inner critic loudly voicing, ‘what’s this hippy shit’. Right now I know that the more regularly i dance as a conscious practice (two weeks of dancing daily really kicked this off), the more I can bear to accept and witness the parts of my personality that i would or wouldn’t normally give space to. I like to see it this way, ‘a body dancing is allowing ‘life’ to move through it’s cells’. So the more you move the more you feel alive, relieving the stuckness in the head that can lead to all kinds of problems!
Early morning forest wanderings on the training, became imperative to me and from that and the safe held space we created, I’ve discovered that my inner ally is this gentle personality who requires more presence in my life. My strength as a facilitator is revealing my vulnerability and transparency from a grounded place. I’ve reclaimed my inner child’s right to belong, to read her softness and to make the best decisions in daily life based on her needs.
I’d like to thank that side of myself for the gift of learning to be gregarious and charming. It has come in handy until recently. I love bringing people together to create communities of like minded friends and how each have the potential to compliment each other personally or professionally, however in the recent past, when i’ve organised one of these gatherings, i’ve not fully enjoy them. This informed my healing process at DF camp. I had an intention for the whole training to claim my true sovereignty by being aware of the weakness i have to seek approval and love from others. I practiced relaxing the nice- face and people-pleasing Sophie face with my DF co-creators, by speaking it out loud to the safety of my DF community. In the past and in my present process of being alive when i couldn’t feel love, i learnt skills to project myself to world to seek acknowledgement. To quote an observation that my co-dancing buddy Dianna made (and Laurel back home), ‘Sophie, I can feel it’s exhausting to your soul to always be in charge of making people laugh and feel good about themselves.’ Thanks Aussie Dianna and Kiwi Laurel for your observations – bang on!
I really felt my true colours in an exercise where we were asked to stand up, face our group and express why we want to bring Dancing Freedom to our community. Not an easy task expressing your innermost desires in front of people whilst standing still and at ease. I usually am the first to volunteer – all gung-ho style and ready to set the pace. But this day I felt really scared, small and hopeless. Somehow I knew I didn’t want to bullshit myself anymore – I wanted to make peace with this shy one. I waited until last, stood up there, started to speak, ‘My name is Sophie, and I’m scared’, is what came out. I sensed a layer of tension dissolving about me. I am a pro crier but the way I shook with tears in this moment,from my feet to my head was an extraordinarily real and deeply touching moment. Something changed in that moment. When the session finished I walked off in silence, up the hill to stand next to the pond. Looking over the farm and mountains I felt a sense of deep peace, like life was really tangible. Returning to the barn where we ate our meals each day, I felt safe about being completely okay with feeling broken and small. I could sense my friend’s hearts being right there beside me.
It now really makes sense that my gifts lie in working with children. Children need to be fully seen in all their wisdom and power, so they can grow up free to make choices based on their natural strengths.
Inclusive of all adults, why do i particularly want to facilitate a session of Dancing Freedom for parents and single parents? To offer a safe space for the toddler or teenage archetype to feel embodied and accepted that they too can experience their own inner tantrums and inner rebellion, be that joyful or rage-ful. I would like to hold the intention of a space free from judgement so adults can let go of being a role model and have their time to sweat, let rip and just be. From my experience I know that at the end of a session there is sense of spaciousness that can help to bring peace to the shadow aspects of self, like guilt – ‘not doing enough’, shame or grief, especially when shared with others.
My vision is that Dancing Freedom is also brought to young adults and teens to support them in getting embodied. Check out http://www.lifebeat.co.uk – an amazing organisation that supports the empowerment of young people through the arts. Samantha, founder of DF’s mission is to empower people in their purpose. I’m with her on this. She calls it ‘becoming embodied leaders’. Some of her words that stand out for me in relation to this are, ‘We lead when we be, do and create our lives as true expressions of our heart-knowing.’
My dear friends at home are testaments to this, each working hard for their freedom. The term co-creation is used a lot out here and I’ve truly felt this as a reality and not just a concept. The people of California and Oregon who I’ve met have a pure untainted, almost seemingly innocent attitude towards self-belief and group vision that’s has sweetened me up like honey.
I feel like England needs a bit more of this spirit to shine the light of genuine enthusiasm on our funky blighted cynicism and support each other’s potential to succeed. I’m glad to know that my community of friends have this positive attitude at their core. I danced the intention of ‘what does it feel like to be in community on an Ecstatic dance floor in Santa Cruz the other day, so that I could write about it in this blog. Something really innocent was reaped from it – bodies naturally love to dance with other bodies when the head doesn’t get in the way. Perhaps we can try dancing more together in order to co-create!
My spine tingled frequently during the course, as I listened to my fellows in circle, having the courage to share their hearts that spoke to mine. I’d like this to continue back home not as a hippy dippy woo-woo affair but as a way to get real and ’embody transformation’. The word transcendence appeared quite a lot during the training. The sound of that word used to come across as all lofty but actually enough things have happened on this trip to wake me up to the presence of something greater than us, freeing up the struggle of feeling alone.
I wrote some of this blog from Eselen, Big Sur, California. ‘The Pacific is pounding the cliffs beside me, all the elements are here and great gratitude to them, they’ve provided a time to reflect on what’s just been and what’s to come’. Eseslen is an institute dedicated to pioneering change in people in society. It’s basically paradise. Hot springs pop out of the mountain right beside the ocean – hot hot baths heated with the fire from the earth. I saw a bunch of whales gracefully split the waves with their giant prehistoric bodies whilst blowing rainbow coloured the air from their blow holes – blessed moment that was. – water.
The people are here to heal, relax, be in community, sit under the stars bathing, be naked or not, drink wine….it all goes. This is definitely a place to return to – I guess when you find paradise it feels a no brainer to return. FYI you can offer to work the land here, help out in the kitchen for a 4 – 6 hours a day and in return you get to enjoy being here with the hot springs and all the other various magic that seems to happen here. The gardens are incredible- got vegetables, flowers and amazing herbs – essential oils bustin out amongst the wofts of sulphur from the hot springs. There’s also a continuous flow of fresh bread. Paradise!
Thanks to the older gentleman who came and put a sweet smelling rose in my hair at reception when I chose to stay another night. Thanks to Michael ether for the cup of tea and the deep soulful chat that had my british cackles vibrating through the Eselen canteen!
Here’s Sunshine and laura who I met at Eselen and got to spend an afternoon frolicking with in Big Sur. I followed them up Highway 1 in their convertible Mustang on leaving Eselen – they were bunking their yoga workshop to go and find a beach. Pfeiffer beach was whipping up a storm – as were us three naked ladies- running down the beach doing star jumps scaring off the tourists! Oh to being wild and free!
Now I’m off cruising in my automobile onto Santa Cruz to get me a trucker’s cap – which on occasions I shall wear back to front -yeah! I shall check out the surf dudes and the board-walk and dance some more!! I’ve got an Ecstatic Dance night in Santa Cruz and San Fran to experience before I go – apparently they are rather ace!!! That’s now been and gone and I danced so hard that I can take this memory home on the pads of my slightly swollen feet! THANK YOU HAMID AND LARA – for adding the cherry on the cake of my incredible time out here.
This month long trip has blessed with me all kinds of inspiring human and geographical interactions. The brief yet super familiar people at Eselen, my Dancing Freedom crew in Oregon who are just amazing, new and old friends in San Fran and my Santa Cruzian brothers and sisters Hamid, Lara, Sarah and Owlswan.
So off i go! Leaving home for home. I’m excited about returning to both! I take with me a daily dance practice through the elements as inspiration for supporting my well being and others. A desire to collect gorgeous music, to be close to nature and to take creative risks in the great mystery of life.
‘’Imagine then a dancer who, after long study, prayer and inspiration, has attained such a degree of understanding that his/her body is simply the luminous manifestation of her soul; whose body dances in accordance with a music heard inwardly, in an expression of something greater than all selves.’’
– Isadora Duncan, The philosopher’s Stone of Dancing, 1920