“TRUST IN WHAT YOU LOVE, CONTINUE TO DO IT, AND IT WILL TAKE YOU WHERE YOU NEED TO GO.” NATALIE GOLDBERG
University of Nebraska at Kearney dance students 1979
Do you trust yourself to make good decisions? Do you listen to yourself? Do you trust life to guide you where you need to go?
Last night I watched a video of dance performances that I choreographed when I taught dance at University of Nebraska at Kearney. I had forgotten how good the students were, considering that most of them had never studied dance. I also felt rather proud of myself for creating choreography that made them look graceful and talented, rather than like beginning dancers.
Watching the tapes was a joyful experience. It reminded me of a time when I loved the work I was doing and of the wonderful lessons that I learned from dance. Having been often sick as a child, I grew up not trusting my own body because of its weakness. I felt insecure doing physical activity except for the hikes my family took when I always had someone to help and guide me.
Strengthening the Body Develops Confidence
In high school, I had modern dance one day a week, and as my body changed, my confidence improved. I developed muscles and strength. I felt stronger. I liked my body which I had previously not liked because I thought it was too skinny. I began to trust myself more socially.
Dance Can Be A Spiritual Practice
The more I trusted myself, the more I loved studying dance and dancing. As I matured, dance became a spiritual practice. It took me where I needed to go, to a place where I learned to trust my body and my creativity, to moments of silence, to a balance between opposites, and to the expression and moderation of boundless energy.
Silence Takes Us Deeper
I learned to trust silence, to stand quietly, to be okay with doing nothing, to use silence to mindfully prepare for action. I no longer saw silence as time wasted. It allowed me to explore my inner richness and value what deeper thoughts rose to the surface to guide my life and movement.
Balance Requires Being Open
Learning to balance was a basic aspect of movement. In class one day with Jenny Scanlon, a member of the Jose Limon company, teaching, we practiced balancing on our toes with our feet apart in second position. I was struggling, trying to decide what muscles to contract to keep my rocking body in position when Jenny said, “To balance you have to stretch – reach out into space.”
At that moment, I suddenly realized why I was struggling. I was contracting inward toward my center. I took a breath, lifted and opened my chest, stretched out into the space with my arms, lifting my spine toward the sky as I pressed my feet into the ground. Balance! Perfect balance! I had to open in order to balance.
Confidence Allows Us To Take Risks
Most of all dance changed me from being a person who was afraid to take a risk to one who was often fearless. Like all risk-takers, I had to learn when it was wise to take the risk and when not, but even trying to take a risk was a huge change for me. If I could run across the stage, jump into the air and trust that my partner would catch me, which he usually did, I could learn to do other things in life that scared me. And in those times when I jumped and my partner and I both fell from the force, I learned how to survive the fall without injury.
This taught me to put more energy into what I wanted in life—to go for it! I learned to choreograph my life. To create moments of silence between my energetic expressions, organize what activities were most important, and venture into areas where I was a novice all took me to new experiences that broadened my life. I learned to trust my intuition, my instincts, and my desire to live life more fully.
Dance Connects Us With Nature and Trust
It was never the applause or costumes that I loved about dancing—it was the earthiness. I was a modern dancer and loved the feeling of my bare feet on the wooden stage. It grounded me. Eartha Kitt once said, “I’m a dirt person. I trust the dirt. I don’t trust diamonds and gold.” After all, the earth is our home, our foundation, the abundance that feeds us. After loving nature all my life and spending my childhood hiking and swimming in lakes and streams, despite my infirmities, I needed to feel in touch with nature.
As I became more in touch with my own body, I also became more aware of the earth on which I danced. When we dance, we interact with gravity. We rebound from the earth. We suspend in the air. The physical activity is basic to life. Dance nourishes the body and soul.
Instead of being fearful of life, I learned to trust myself and life’s twists, turns and detours. I learned to trust that whatever happened, I could handle it, and I learned to risk moving on when I eventually needed to stop dancing. I risked becoming a writer and sharing my voice. I learned that trusting what I love would take me where I needed to go.
What will you do today to become more trusting of yourself?
© 2017 Georganne Spruce
Related Articles: Limon Company – Psalm (excerpt), Awakening to Release Our Fear, Three Ways to Develop Self-Trust