chained

I woke frightened by a crazy dream last night, eyes wide, letting go, breathing. The work shift of our sub-conscious begins in earnest the moment we fall sleep. I’ve lived through vivid chapters with dreams aplenty, memorable mining for meaning, deep wonder about the human psyche. And I’ve also had long periods of limited-access dreaming, unable to re-call a thing. I’m in a plentiful period now, but somewhere along the way I lost the need to inquire about significance or message. Instead there’s underlying trust that my sub-conscious is on the job and I don’t need to question or dig or interpret.

After three days dancing in Vancouver, I realized that my dance has been operating the same way lately. For years I focused on the practice, pretty much always ready to do a body of work. Lately I come to the floor with an utter lack of expectation or desire for explicit intuition or wisdom or insight. If something does emerge, I even question the lure of articulation. Feels like committing to black and white might limit the scope or power or awe. Just like a dream, there’s abiding trust that physical movement is doing its job. When I just surrender and get out of the way, inexpressible shape-shifting just transpires.

I landed in Vancouver on a whim. An unused plane ticket, a place to stay, Kate Shela up front for three days. I really had no idea what my healing body could physically do for an extended bout and I really didn’t care. I just wanted a chunk of undistracted time to move and be with all that has happened in recent months. It was a bonus to be in a community where relative anonymity was possible. I arrived in that utter lack of expectation dream state.

It’s weird to be a writer and acknowledge that rendering experience to words is risky.   Language can have an effect on meaning like a butcher has on meat, reducing it to its mundane parts. Nevertheless, it’s what I do sometimes and this workshop Leap was all about coming to a personal edge and making a move. So I’m going to attempt to capture the dream, assign meaning, articulate it to the best of my ability. Hopefully I won’t butcher it.

I’m still wearing the ritual bracelet we slipped on, the links evocative of a past that binds us. I held it in my hand, and the immediate past flooded over me. Since springtime, the subtle ways I’d been unchaining myself from life’s hold. The lack of resolution and the mystery surrounding my health issues imperceptibly dropped me into the end zone of letting go. Mostly an unconscious dreamy seduction. When my partner clasped the chain around my wrist, in a flash I felt how I had been pulled back in, re-chained to life.   You might expect this to be a joyful realization. Instead I felt all that poignant letting go sweetness just slip away. I missed the deliciousness of easing back, like falling into a huge pile of pillowed down. All day I felt myself dancing into the possibility of that juicy unchained sensibility, that easing back…even while being chained back in.

Day one was supposed to be dedicated to going back in time, rooting around for the past chains that bind us. Don’t get me wrong: this is valuable rooting; I’ve done plenty of it. But pretty quick I recognized the deep peace I’ve come to around my crazy past. It didn’t feel useful to dredge up any of it. Even when I tried for a bit, only soothing compassion arose. There is absolutely nothing in my past holding me back. Paradoxically kinda the opposite: it feels like a powerful fueling source in it’s own weird way.

Day two was about envisioning and stepping into the future. With this strong pull to let go, obviously I wasn’t going there either. There was one of those moving across the floor group exercises, making shapes and repetitions of these future visions. I made it across once and when the call came to go back across again with the same instruction, I couldn’t move. I liked it at the end. It was peaceful. My heart broke open as I watched 90 people move into the future without me. It’s not that I don’t care about the big picture future. I’m a grandma. I’m extremely concerned about the planet. It’s just that right now a personal specific future doesn’t interest me a whole lot.

Day three was about the present. As I moved in this day dream, it slowly and inexorably dawned on me that I have spent years cultivating presence: on the cushion, on the mat, on the dance floor. Hours and hours of meditation practice to fortify the present moment. Training attention so that this current moment can take precedence over ruminating, remembering, worrying, planning, scheming, agenda-izing. And here it was, so alive in the seat of my belly, in the beat of my heart, in the uniqueness of each footfall. If I don’t care to focus on the past and I’m not so interested in making a particular future happen, what’s left? Only the present moment, love. Only the present moment.

Love, bella